A second round of formal negotiations for the Cambodia-United Arab Emirates Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CAM-UAE CEPA) is being held in Phnom Penh, with both sides looking to resolve additional issues after their October 24-26 talks in Abu Dhabi.

A CEPA is a type of free trade agreement (FTA) generally designed for a more holistic coverage beyond just commodities, and can contain provisions for services, investments, dispute resolution, intellectual property rights, government procurement, and additional forms of specialised economic cooperation.

This follow-up round of talks, held from December 19-21, was presided over by Cambodia’s Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak. The UAE delegation was led by Juma Mohammed al-Kait, assistant undersecretary for Foreign Trade Affairs at the UAE’s Ministry of Economy.

Sorasak said the two parties have already expressed their joint commitment to boosting investment ties and opening up more bilateral trade and markets.

He said the talks focused on key areas including trade in goods and services; investment; electronic commerce; trade facilitation; technical barriers to trade; sanitary and phytosanitary measures; intellectual property; economic cooperation; and small- and medium-sized enterprises.

UAE delegation chairman al-Kait said this second round of talks is an important part of the UAE strategy to build closer and stronger relations with reliable business partners around the world.

He said the agenda of the CAM-UAE CEPA is essential to the eventual outcome of an agreement and he welcomed discussions with all stakeholders who are willing to accelerate the flow of goods, secure the supply chain and seek opportunities for joint ventures with mutual benefit.

“Through this second round of talks, we’ve committed to the drafting of an agreement in the near-term to enhance bilateral trade relations through open market ports for exporting goods and services.”

The UEA is Cambodia’s leading trade partner in the Middle East, contributing approximately 77 per cent of Cambodia’s total trade volume with the region.

In the first eight months of 2022, bilateral trade reached a total of $279 million, an increase of 40 per cent over to the same period in 2021.

Cambodian economic experts have also encouraged the CAM-UAE CEPA negotiation teams to try and reach an agreement as soon as possible to serve the common interest as well as give confidence to consumers, investors and businessmen in the two countries.