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North Korea talks trade pact with Cambodia

North Korea talks trade pact with Cambodia

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A world map, with the Korean peninsula marked in red, at a hotel in Rason city, northeast of Pyongyang, North Korea. Photograph: Reuters

North Korea yesterday proposed to lower tax and trade barriers with Cambodia. The proposal, if made into a formal agreement, would join a long list of agreements between the two countries that have never been followed through.

The proposal, made by the country’s ambassador to Cambodia, Hong Ki Chol, during a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Keat Chhon and attended by the Post, would make Cambodian and North Korean businesses exempt from paying “double tax”, or tax in both countries.

Hong Ki Chol said such an agreement could help boost business between the two countries, which, have had diplomatic relations since 1964.

“To promote trade and investment between the two countries, we should sign the agreement on not imposing double tax,” he said during the meeting.

Although Cambodia has yet to sign a similar trade pact with any other county, the significance of the deal with North Korea was not disclosed.

The two countries have signed seven cooperation agreements since in 1993, none of which have been implemented, Ouch Borith, secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said last year.

North Korea invested US$17 million in a cultural museum in Siem Reap last year. Other data on economic exchanges between the countries were not available.

North Korea has also discussed providing mining assistance in exchange for agricultural products such as rice and corn.

Keat Chhon, who is also the minister of economy and finance, was receptive to the proposal.

“We have never made this kind of agreement with any countries. So Cambodia will try even harder to achieve this kind of agreement in the year to come,” he said.

Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong made a high-level visit to North Korea last month.

Both Koreas have been invited to the ASEAN Regional Forum this month in Siem Reap, and Cambodian officials have mentioned the possibility of playing a role in reconciliation between the two belligerents.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at [email protected]

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