The inauguration of the Cambodia Private Commercial Centre (CPCC) in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), marks a significant step for the country in boosting trade and attracting more investment and tourism links with the Arab bloc, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Ministry secretary of state Tekreth Kamrang presided over the official launching ceremony of the centre, attended by officials and authorities from the UAE, as well as representatives of the Oneroad Group, on February 27 in the Emirati capital. 

“The [CPCC] … was established to promote and export Cambodian products to international markets. It will also disseminate documents related to Cambodia’s trade, economy, investment, culture and tourism to traders, investors and international tourists, especially from the UAE,” stated Kamrang.

Ministry spokesperson Penn Sovicheat spoke to The Post on February 28 about the centre.

“The [CPCC] will serve as a channel to promote our products to Middle Eastern countries. We are also collaborating with the UAE on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement [CAM-UAE CEPA],” he explained.

He noted that Cambodia has been expanding its exports to Arab countries and has seen an increase in the flow of investment and tourists from Arab countries to Cambodia in recent years.

“We do believe that in the near future, there will be a significant increase in trade and investment from Arab countries. This will also enhance our ability to boost agricultural product exports to these and other surrounding nations,” he added.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, recently told The Post that the UAE, as a developed nation with expertise in oil and gas, presents a major opportunity for Cambodia.

He believes this could potentially increase the Kingdom’s market share in products such as agriculture and textiles and enhance its knowledge in oil and gas exploration. The agreement is also expected to boost tourist inflow from the Arab region.

Vanak noted that although current trade between the two countries, and with the Arab region at large, is modest, it is expected to grow considerably once the accord becomes operational.

“I expect that the agreement’s enforcement will open up major avenues for exporting Cambodian agricultural products to Arab countries,” he said.

He also emphasised the importance for the country to thoroughly research and understand high demand products in these markets, enabling it to cultivate or process products specifically for export under special conditions.

On March 16, Cambodia and the UAE formally concluded talks for the CAM-UAE CEPA. The CEPA, a type of free trade agreement (FTA), typically includes more comprehensive coverage beyond commodities. It encompasses services, investments, dispute resolution, intellectual property rights, government procurement and other forms of specialised economic cooperation. 

The ministry has not yet announced an official date for the signing of the agreement.

According to the ministry, bilateral trade between Cambodia and the UAE amounted to $86.8 million in 2023, marking a year-on-year decline of 17%. Key items in trade between the two nations include clothing, footwear, bicycles, travel goods, tobacco, milled rice, electrical appliances, vehicle components, asphalt, tuber sugars, animal feed, plastics, vehicles and paper.

Cambodia welcomed 192 visitors from the UAE last year, an increase of 56% from 123 in 2022, as per the Ministry of Tourism.