Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen seeks to bolster trade at India-Asean meet

Hun Sen seeks to bolster trade at India-Asean meet

The loading dock at Sihanoukville port.
The loading dock at Sihanoukville port. Heng Chivoan

Hun Sen seeks to bolster trade at India-Asean meet

Prime Minister Hun Sen departs today for the India-Asean Summit hosted in New Delhi, aiming to boost cooperation and expand a historically minor trade relationship with the world’s seventh largest economy.

The two-day summit begins on Thursday and comes on the heels of a draft agreement passed by Cambodia’s National Assembly on January 15, which seeks to facilitate further economic cooperation between the two nations, particularly in the communication, construction and tourism sectors. During his visit, Hun Sen is scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as well as deliver a keynote address to an India-Cambodia business group.

Indian government data show that annual trade between the Cambodia and India has lagged of late, decreasing by nearly 30 percent to $141 million during the last Indian fiscal year, which ran from April 2016 to May 2017. That’s the lowest level since the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

“Merchandise trade between India and Asean is not very important at present, partly because of geography and partly because of India’s traditionally protectionist policies,” said Miguel Chanco, lead Asean analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The slump in bilateral trade is likely a result of India’s slowing economic growth, according to Chanco, and was unlikely to improve in the near future.

“The EIU’s current growth estimate for India for the 2017-2018 fiscal year is for a further slowdown, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the country’s trade with Cambodia remained weak,” he said, adding that another reason for relatively weak trade was that both India and Cambodia largely export the same products, such as rice and textiles.

Seang Thay, a spokesman at Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce, said that there had been little Indian investment in the Kingdom and limited overall trade between the two countries, in part because India is geographically farther – and therefore more expensive to trade with – than Cambodia’s Asean neighbours.

“We hope that having these talks will enable us to address any obstacles that could potentially disrupt trade relations, and to find appropriate solutions to further strengthen two-way trade and investment,” he said.

Thay added that the majority of Indian products to Cambodia are medical or health-related, and World Bank data show India’s main exports to Cambodia largely fall in the chemical and textile categories.

MOST VIEWED

  • First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

    Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year. “On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US

  • Qatar Airways to connect Doha and Siem Reap town

    Qatar Airways Company QCSC has announced a new route connecting Qatar’s capital Doha with Siem Reap, a move hailed by local officials as a significant step to boost tourist numbers. A Qatar Airways representative, speaking at the Kuwait Aviation Show, announced on Thursday that

  • Sokha defence denies Tech’s claims

    ON DAY two of Kem Sokha’s treason trial, lawyers for the government said the defence had raised questions in an attempt to allow their client to make a public statement and a conclusion to the case, something his legal team denied. Ky Tech, a

  • Cambodian general visits Myanmar to enhance national defence cooperation

    Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) commander-in-chief Vong Pisen is now in Myanmar leading a delegation that aims to improve ties, particularly in national defence, with the fellow Asean member. The timing of Pisen’s four-day visit to the Southeast Asian neighbour is highly symbolic, with

  • Probe underway after wreckage of drone with Chinese characters found

    Air Force Command spokesman Prak Sokha said on Sunday that investigations are underway regarding the wreckage of a drone that was recovered in Koh Kong province’s Koh Sdech commune in Kiri Sakor district. The wreckage has been taken to the capital for further examination,

  • Sokha’s treason trial begins

    The treason trial of Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Kem Sokha began at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Wednesday with the presentation of a two-minute video clip. The footage, which was the basis of the charge against him, was dismissed by