Cambodia supports Australia’s initiative to promote the use of electronic trade documents under the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) framework to boost regional trade in the post-Covid-19 era.

The statement was made on May 18 during a virtual meeting between Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak and Australian ambassador to Cambodia Pablo Kang.

The AANZFTA agreement provides broader and more precise tariff reductions for service providers and investors of its partner countries. The trade deal entered into force in January 2010 for Australia and Cambodia, effective January 4, 2011.

Sorasak said Cambodia and Australia are committed to strengthening cooperation in the field of international trade, especially the continued support of Australia in the development of trade in the Kingdom – bilaterally, regionally and multilaterally.

The minister said that within the regional framework, Australia will launch an initiative to promote the use of e-commerce documents under the AANZFTA framework to facilitate trade with the island nation.

“The initiative will also contribute to cost reductions aimed at enhancing the resilience of trade chains and boosting regional trade in the context of the Covid-19 crisis and afterwards,’ he said.

The two sides exchanged views and discussed the implementation of trade development projects under the auspices of Australia.

According to the minister, these projects have strengthened and built up the capacity of trade officials, and made valuable contributions to the development and establishment of relevant legal standards related to trade, the continued implementation of the Cambodia-Australia Agricultural Value Chain (CAVAC) programme and the promotion of e-commerce.

At the same time, the two sides also exchanged views on the evolution and trends of multilateral trade under the framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), ahead of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference.

“I would like to thank the Australian side for its continued support and significant contribution to the development of Cambodia’s trade and related sectors. We are committed to increasing bilateral trade volume and promoting cooperation in trade and all related sectors, especially the close relationship between the two countries,” Sorasak said.

The AANZFTA agreement was inked with a view to reduce or eliminate trade barriers across a region comprising a market of 600 million people with an estimated combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.7 trillion.

The agreement presents a number of tangible benefits for businesses seeking a slice of the Cambodian-Australian trade and investment markets, including tariff reductions, market liberalisation for most services and protection for investors.

The Australian ambassador tweeted: “Good to have an extensive virtual catch up this morning with Cambodian Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak to discuss bilateral collaboration on e-commerce & consumer protection, as well as our mutual interests in the World Trade Organisation, RCEP & the [AANZFTA].”

Last year, bilateral trade between the two countries was worth $213.64 million, up by 3.82 per cent from $205.79 million in 2019, according to commerce ministry data.

The Kingdom exported $133.92 million worth of merchandise last year, up by 0.26 per cent year-on-year, and imported $79.72 million, up by 10.41 per cent year-on-year.