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Sweden Inc talked into agri, EVs

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Swedish ambassador to Cambodia Jon Astrom Grondahl (third right), commerce ministry secretary of state Ok Bung (fourth right) and other officials at Tuesday’s meeting. COMMERCE MINISTRY

Sweden Inc talked into agri, EVs

Swedish businessmen and investors are urged to seize big opportunities to invest in Cambodia, said Ministry of Commerce secretary of state Ok Bung, while prodding them to increase imports of agricultural and manufactured products.

He also called upon them to invest more in the electric vehicle (EV) sector and consider setting up a Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia.

Bung said this on May 24 when he met newly-appointed Swedish ambassador to Cambodia Jon Astrom Grondahl on behalf of Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak – who is away in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.

In his speech, Bung said continuous efforts are being made to diversify trade via bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements to enhance the business and investment climate.

Cambodia has also implemented International Labour Organisation’s Better Factories Programme, aimed at improving working conditions, eliminating child labour and ensuring compliance with international standards.

“Both Cambodia and Sweden have had good relations in the past, especially in trade and economic sectors. We are committed to strengthen this relationship to boost trade volume to ensure economic growth post-Covid-19,” he added.

In that, he also noted that Cambodia has implemented several measures to overcome the effects of the pandemic, including an intensive vaccination campaign which supported the full reopening of the country last November.

Meanwhile, Grondahl, who resides in Bangkok, reciprocated by expressing his strong commitment to encourage more Swedish businessmen and investors to explore the trade, investment and tourism potential in Cambodia.

He also pledged to bring Cambodia-Sweden bilateral trade volume to its full potential.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath told The Post on May 25 that trade volume between Cambodia and Sweden was small, which meant that both sides must strengthen cooperation and increase investment.

He said Cambodia can export agricultural products to Sweden. “Being a country with a cold climate, it may need more agricultural products from the tropics.”

The fact that both sides are committed to increasing trade volume is a good thing, he said, particularly with the opening of more trade channels in Sweden, which could help diversify Cambodia’s export markets for agricultural products.

While shipment to Sweden will take long, fresh produce would be difficult to export, Sereyvath observed, but Cambodia could sell frozen meat, peppercorn, grains, and other dry products.

A Ministry of Commerce report showed that the trade volume between the two countries was around $64 million in 2020. Between January and May last year, total trade stood at $23 million.

Annual bilateral trade between the two countries has remained tilted in the Kingdom’s favour over the past few years, although Cambodian imports grew by 39 per cent to $11.99 million in 2020 compared to a year earlier, according to Trading Economics.

The latest figures on the statistics website indicate that in 2020, Cambodian exports to Sweden were to the tune of $52.12 million in 2020, down by 28.2 per cent from $72.58 million in 2019.

In 2020, “articles of apparel, knit or crocheted” accounted for $25.22 million or about 48.4 per cent of Cambodia’s exports – down from $32.26 million in 2019 or 44 per cent of that year’s total – while “wood and articles of wood, wood charcoal” made up $3.42 million or around two-sevenths of the Kingdom’s imports.

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