CAMBODIA stands to benefit as the European Union strengthens ties with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but it should remember its “old friends” according to a senior EU official.
Relations are on the fast track between Europe and all ASEAN member nations, but the Kingdom would do well to ensure strong international relations, said the head of the EU delegation to Indonesia Julian Wilson.
“[Cambodia] must remember that the foundation of economic development is the need to keep a stable relationship for the future, as new friends emerge on the global scene,” he said.
The EU has granted duty-free status to the majority of exports from the Kingdom under its Everything But Arms initiative, aimed at benefiting United Nations-designated least-developed Countries.
Cambodia is greatly benefiting from EBA, according to the Cambodian Ambassador to Indonesia Kan Pharidh.
“We receive much support and assistance from Europe to boost our economy,” he said. “Europe wants to strengthen regional cooperation – not only with Cambodia, but with all of ASEAN as well.”
Cambodia’s main exports to Europe were garments and textiles, which increased 12 percent to US$405.5 million over the first seven months of this year compared to last year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
The EU is presently ASEAN’s fifth-largest trading partner: Trade between the two blocs reached €134 billion (US$185 billion) in 2008.
ASEAN deputy secretary-general for community and corporate affairs Bagas Hapsoro said ASEAN's newest members still faced a number of challenges – human resources capacity-building being the biggest.