Cambodia can expect direct flights from India in early 2024, thereby boosting tourism, trade and investment between both countries, as negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement move to the final stages.

Cambodian ambassador to India Koy Kuong told Indian news agency ANI on August 26 that the diplomatic relations between India and Cambodia have reached “remarkable heights in the present era”, with both countries celebrating 70 years of friendship.

Cambodia enjoys strong cooperation regionally with India as a dialogue partner of ASEAN as well as internationally where both countries continuously support each other, Kuong was quoted as saying by ANI.

At present, India has direct flights to nine ASEAN member countries except Cambodia.

“In the near future, at least in early 2024, there is a possibility of a direct flight from New Delhi to Cambodia, so it will be easier for people to travel [between both countries] as tourists or investors,” he said.

Separately, Indian ambassador to Cambodia Devyani Khobragade told a Cambodia-India business forum on August 24 that both nations enjoy an “excellent political relationship”, which has given them “great opportunities to promote economic and commercial relations” and understand ways to enhance business-to-business (B2B) initiatives.

There are multiple programmes both governments are working on to boost the political and trade relation, namely the bilateral investment treaty, which is at the final stage, Devyani said, adding that this provided an impetus for investments.

Both sides are also considering a preferential trade agreement to further boost and diversify trade between our two countries.

Apart from that, the existing ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement provides Indian companies a suitable environment to export and promote the export from Cambodia to the rest of ASEAN, Devyani said.

“I always tell our business colleagues not to look at Cambodia as a country with a 17 million population but to look at it as a stable and friendly gateway to ASEAN. I would like to share with you that the embassy has been actively working toward the India-Cambodia Joint Business Council. We hope to have this council in India this year,” she added.

According to Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism, 16,388 Indian visitors were recorded in the first quarter of the year, a big jump from a mere 1,478 visitors in the same quarter last year.

Cambodian goods exports to India amounted to $91.5 million in the first four months of 2023, representing a 64.2 per cent year-on-year surge from $55.746 million, the General Department of Customs and Excise reported. India was Cambodia’s 18th biggest trading partner for the period.