Australia has reaffirmed its commitment to furthering business dealings with Cambodia, as data from the commerce ministry revealed that bilateral trade volume between the two countries reached $324.492 million in 2021 – a 52 per cent surge year-on-year despite the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

Ministry of Commerce figures revealed that Cambodia’s total exports to Australia were worth $205.300 million in 2021, an increase of nearly 54 per cent from the year before, as imports from Australia totalled $119.192 million – an uptick of nearly 50 per cent compared to 2020.

In a meeting between Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak and Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade deputy secretary for Southeast Asia Katrina Cooper on March 2, Australia reaffirmed that it would further expand trade volume through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – which entered into force on January 1 – as well as the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA).

Cooper praised the growth of bilateral trade, pledging to further boost trade and investment between the two countries, as Sorasak noted that trade had continued to grow despite the challenging circumstances of the Covid-19 crisis, with Cambodia-Australia diplomatic relations now in their 71st year.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice president Lim Heng told The Post that the two countries have a long history of good relations between both public and private actors, and that Australia is an ideal choice for a trading partner that can spur further economic growth.

Heng said he expects that the two countries may develop a bilateral free trade agreement in the future in addition to the RCEP. The commerce ministry is currently working with its Australian counterpart to facilitate mutual trade and investment, he said.

He noted that Australia had also discussed with the CCC and the Kingdom’s Supreme National Economic Council the feasibility of establishing an industrial park to attract Australian investors to the manufacturing, garments and agricultural sectors.

He commented that the Australian government has also supported research on the potential of Cambodian agricultural products to boost exports in the sector, through initiatives such as the Cambodia-Australia Agriculture Value Chain Programme (CAVAC).

The CAVAC programme lists nine items of Cambodian agricultural products as being of high value and demand in the Australian, New Zealand, European, Chinese and ASEAN markets.

These are mango, longan, cashew nut, chilli, sweet potato, avocado, sesame, palm sugar and dried banana.