Cambodia has called on Kyrgyzstan to expedite a joint study on the establishment of a free trade agreement (FTA) between the Kingdom and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) to further expand Cambodian exports to the bloc’s five countries.
The appeal was made at a meeting between Cambodian Ministry of Commerce secretary of state Sok Sopheak and Kyrgyz ambassador to Switzerland and permanent representative to the UN, Almazbek Beishenaliev, at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) headquarters in Swiss diplomatic hub Geneva on December 1.
Comprising Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia, the EAEU is home to 184.6 million people and represents a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $4.778 trillion, according to International Monetary Fund estimates for 2020.
Sopheak emphasised the importance of diplomatic relations and bilateral trade and economic cooperation between the Kingdom and the Central Asian country.
He also highlighted a 2019 meeting with former Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov and the joint study initiative on the establishment of a Cambodia-EAEU FTA.
He said the Kingdom is committed to strengthening and expanding economic, trade and investment cooperation between the two countries and asked Bishkek to look into fast-tracking work on the study.
Beishenaliev accepted the Cambodian delegation’s request and vowed to run it past the Kyrgyz leadership, in the interest of “continued close cooperation” with the Kingdom.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post that an FTA with the EAEU would be “a good thing”, saying the deal would allow the Kingdom to ship more than 10,000 items to the region, which he noted has a population that is set to top 200 million in the near future.
He pointed out that EAEU countries have provided duty-free access to some Cambodian goods, even without a trade deal, upping the presence of the Kingdom’s products in the five markets, notably garments, footwear and other textile-based goods.
He suggested that an FTA with the bloc would mean a boon for Cambodian agricultural exports.
“Economic ties with the EAEU are still limited, so in order to boost trade with the bloc, especially Russia, the largest of the five countries, we need to push further, especially for the signing of this free trade agreement,” Heng said.