Cambodia and Russia have pledged to explore ways to encourage and promote joint investment projects between the two countries, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The vow was made at the "First Online Business Meeting with Russian Companies", held on July 30, as part of commemorations of the 65th anniversary of Cambodia-Russia diplomatic ties, the ministry noted in a press release on July 31.

The two nations originally established diplomatic contact on May 13, 1956.

The meeting was organised by the ministry’s Economic Diplomatic Coordination Working Group, in cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation.

The event was co-chaired by CCC president Kith Meng and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation secretary of state Nhim Khemara, and attended by officials of relevant ministries and government institutions, and around 250 businesspeople and investors from both countries.

The foreign ministry noted that the meeting focused on three key areas – technology, industry and energy – and would help pave the way for Russian companies to explore market opportunities in Cambodia, as well as strengthen cooperation between the two countries.

"Businesspeople from both countries will delve into options to work together to galvanise and promote joint investment projects.

"The organisation of business meetings between Cambodian businessmen and investors with private companies of Russia is a start to engagement in promoting trade and attracting foreign direct investment to Cambodia. This event will pave the way for future business meetings with other partner countries," it said.

Ministry of Mines and Energy secretary of state Sok Khavan, who attended the meeting, lauded the achievements of Russian companies that have studied the geology and mapped onshore and offshore petroleum systems in the Kingdom, and have promoted the investment potential in the field.

"We urge Russian companies to invest more in Cambodia, both in power projects and in petroleum refineries," he said.

The CCC’s Meng, who is also chairman of the Royal Group of Companies Ltd, told the meeting that Cambodia and Russia are long-standing partners with an enduring and close friendship, and that the leaders of both countries pay particular attention to strengthen bilateral bonds, according to a CCC press release.

The trade body has been working with Russian partners to shore up Cambodia-Russia trade and investment, he said, adding: "We warmly welcome all Russian businesspeople and investors seeking investment opportunities in Cambodia."

The CCC said it has organised many trade meetings and investment promotion events with Russia in various fields, and signed a cooperation agreement with the Roscongress Foundation in 2015, another one with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation in 2016, and a memorandum of understanding with the Siberian Association for International Cooperation in 2015.

Bilateral trade between the two countries was to the tune of $45.15 million in the first 10 months of 2020, representing an increase of 4.5 per cent year-on-year, Ministry of Commerce statistics show.

Of that amount, Cambodia exported some $38.75 million worth of products, down 4.8 per cent year-on-year, and imported $6.4 million, gaining a gargantuan 155.68 per cent year-on-year.

And in 2019, total trade between the two countries reached more than $55.39 million, sinking 40.44 per cent from the $93.00 million logged in 2018, according to the ministry.

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) was worth $67.37 million last year, marking an increase of 18.22 per cent compared to 2019’s $56.98 million, ministry figures indicate.

Of that, the Kingdom exported $52.19 million, inching up 0.73 per cent year-on-year from $51.81 million in 2019, and imported $15.18 million, ballooning a colossal 193.57 per cent from $5.17 million.