Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 17 called on the Philippines to invest in Cambodia’s rice sector, suggesting they export the commodity back home and to the rest of the world.

He made the plea during a courtesy call paid by newly-minted Philippine ambassador to Cambodia Maria Amelita C Aquino at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.

“The Philippines can invest in Cambodia by financing rice millers, building paddy warehouses and establishing a network to buy paddy for stock and for export to the Philippines,” he said, adding that the Kingdom has about six million tonnes of milled rice in its stockpiles each year.

Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) secretary-general Lun Yeng told The Post that milled-rice exports to the Philippines were relatively weak and that the federation will try to make more inroads into the island nation’s market for the Kingdom’s product.

He lauded the prime minister’s move, saying it will make headway towards securing a market for the Kingdom’s private sector.

“We’ve tried exporting milled rice to the Philippines before, but there’ve always been barriers between buyers and sellers – there are certain discrepancies in price, delivery times and payment requirements. But we’ll keep trying to talk with the Philippines,” Yeng said.

Aquino told Hun Sen that her mission as an ambassador is to expand and reinforce cooperation between the two countries, especially in the fields of trade, economy and investment.

“The Philippines will pay heed to existing agreements that have been signed,” she said.

According to Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon, Cambodia exported 690,829 tonnes of milled rice worth nearly $539 million last year, which represents an 11.40 per cent surge from 2019, he said.

The minister added that 76 Cambodian firms exported the milled rice to 60 international markets, with China absorbing the largest share of 289,439 tonnes, equivalent to 41.90 per cent of the total.

The EU market took in 203,791 tonnes, (29.50 per cent) of Cambodian milled rice, six ASEAN countries imported 86,899 tonnes (12.58 per cent), while 29 other countries bought 110,700 tonnes (16.02 per cent), he said.