The commerce minister on October 13 asked the Turkish ambassador to encourage players from the transcontinental country to invest in Cambodian agricultural, agro-industrial and food processing projects that align with Islamic principles, as the envoy revealed that Ankara plans to open a trade office at her embassy to better coordinate efforts to reinforce bilateral trade and investment relations, according to the commerce ministry.

During a meeting held at his ministry, Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak also requested that Ulku Kocaefe, the newly-minted ambassador, advocate for direct flights between the two countries to cash in on the Kingdom’s abundant supply of raw materials for production, the ministry said in a statement.

The minister stressed that Cambodia has emerged as a promising investment hub, with continuous improvements in hard infrastructure which he said are conducive to trade as well as integration into regional and global production chains.

Sorasak additionally suggested cooperation on halal matters, or areas concerning permissibility under Islamic Law as defined in the religion’s holy book, the Quran.

He also highlighted rubber, cassava, rice, mangoes and bananas as predominant crops abundant in Cambodia that are used as raw materials.

Kocaefe lauded the Kingdom for the momentum of its economic development, which she said is reflected in the resilience of its economy and relative self-sufficiency underpinned by food surpluses, even amid a confluence of global crises, according to the statement.

She expressed willingness to deepen cooperation in trade, investment, education, halal affairs and a range of other fields, and to do her part to encourage direct flights between the two countries.

The statement also noted that the third meeting of the Cambodia-Turkey Joint Economic Commission would be held in Phnom Penh at an undisclosed date, adding that the body – which the Turkish foreign ministry says held its first meeting on February 11, 2015 – has been crucial in expanding and strengthening bilateral cooperation in priority areas such as trade, investment, tourism, education, agriculture, health, industry, science and technology.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on October 16 that the long-standing diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries received major impetus from Prime Minister Hun Sen’s visit to Turkey in 2018, during which a number of bilateral economic, trade and other cooperation agreements were signed.

Heng believes that the inflow of Turkish players to Cambodia in pursuit of investment opportunities would pick up significantly should the Russia-Ukraine conflict de-escalate and Covid-related disruptions ease.

“I believe Turkey is a promising source market for investors to Cambodia, as it straddles both Asia and Europe and represents a new market for the Kingdom,” he said, adding that the majority Muslim country could serve as a gateway to nearby countries for Cambodian goods.

He shared that, on the occasion of the Cambodian embassy’s opening in Ankara early this year, CCC leaders met with the Turkish business community to promote bilateral trade relations.

According to the statement, bilateral trade between the two countries clocked in at “about $90 million” last year, and reached $85 million in January-August 2022. Major items traded are garments, footwear and other textile-related goods; milled rice; rubber; foodstuffs; electrical appliances and vehicles; and minerals.