Cambodia has asked Hungary to provide GSP- (Generalised System of Preferences) Plus facilities for when the Kingdom sheds its least-developed country (LDC) label, as the two countries prepare to hold a second business forum in the second half (H2) of this year to expand trade and investment, according to a Ministry of Commerce statement.

This was revealed at a February 3 meeting at the ministry, between commerce ministry secretary of state Tekreth Kamrang and Tibor Baloghdi, newly appointed Hungarian ambassador to Cambodia, with residence in Hanoi, the statement noted.

Kamrang highlighted achievements in bilateral cooperation, such as the first session of the Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation – held on January 20-21, 2021 – and the inaugural Cambodia-Hungary Business Forum, along with others specifically related to trade relations, including growth in import-export volumes.

Of note, the first Cambodia-Hungary Business Forum was held on February 15, 2022 as the “1st Virtual Business Meeting between Cambodia and Hungary”, as confirmed by official sources.

Kamrang called on the Hungarian business community to look into Cambodia’s trade and investment opportunities, as well as promoting the export of Cambodian agricultural and industrial goods into the Central European market, adding that the second forum would provide a platform for the private sectors to network and forge partnerships.

She asked Budapest to provide additional scholarship support for Cambodian students, as well as trade-related training courses to ensure that officials involved in negotiations for free trade agreements (FTA) and economic diversification initiatives are appropriately equipped.

The senior commerce official called on authorities on both sides to ensure effective implementation of the memorandums of understanding (MoU) and other agreements signed between the two countries, commenting that supporting and working closely with the private sector is key to inclusive, resilient and sustainable economic growth.

Baloghdi seemed keen on Cambodia’s request regarding the provision of GSP-Plus status, expressing Hungary’s commitment to further strengthening and deepening bilateral relations, especially in terms of trade and economic cooperation, the statement said.

Speaking to The Post, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng echoed Kamrang’s sentiment, voicing confidence that the business forum will offer valuable opportunities for businesspeople and investors of both countries to exchange insights and expand business contacts.

“Trade between our two countries is still limited – there is ample room to boost trade and investment,” he stressed.

The commerce ministry reported the total value of Cambodia-Hungary trade in 2022 at $7.44 million, rising by 84 per cent from just over $4 million in 2020.

Cambodia’s “potential” exports to Hungary include garments, footwear, milled rice, grains and seeds, vegetables, tobacco leaves, pharmaceuticals and leather goods, while the corresponding imports comprise base metal articles, organic chemicals, dairy products, synthetic fibres, and processed meat, fish and grains, it said.

Online portal Trading Economics indicates that 2021 Cambodian exports to and imports from Hungary came to $2.82 million and $1.21 million, respectively, compared to $3.56 million and $1.16 million a year earlier. Statistical discrepancies and asymmetries in trade figures are common between different sources.

It shows that the “electrical, electronic equipment” category accounted for the largest share of Cambodian exports, at $1.09 million in 2021, down about one-third from $1.64 million in 2020. This category corresponds to Chapter 85 of the Harmonised System (HS).

“Pharmaceutical products” – or Chapter 30 items – constituted the biggest share of Cambodian imports, at $0.49157 million in 2021, down from $0.57873 million a year earlier, according to Trading Economics.