The Kingdom’s technical team and its Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) counterpart recently assembled to share thoughts and opinions as both parties prepare for the third round of preliminary working-level talks toward formally launching free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations and expand trade markets and investments.
Ministry of Commerce undersecretary of state Samheng Bora led the Cambodian delegation in a virtual preparatory discussion from Phnom Penh on March 10 with the EEC team led by Division of Integration Development director Gohar Barsegyan.
Nine Cambodian institutions and ministries and 30 representatives from the EEC took part in the meeting.
“The purpose of this meeting was to discuss key areas for expanding cooperation between Cambodia and the [EEC] in preparation for the third meeting of the [upcoming] Joint Working Group,” read a press release on the minutes of the meeting.
The EEC is the executive body of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and is responsible for implementing decisions, upholding EAEU treaties and managing the day-to-day business of the economic union, according to the UN.
During the virtual meeting, thoughts were exchanged in preparation for the 3rd Cambodia-EEC meeting agenda which will include topics on investment opportunities in Cambodia, EEC strategy toward 2025, industry cooperation, competition policy and more.
Both sides also exchanged views on five key topics – “Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation”, “Updates of the EAEU Preferential System Provided to Cambodia and Procedures for Negotiating Trade Agreements”, “Free Trade with the EAEU, Standards, Technical Regulations and Assessments of Compliance and Hygiene and Phytosanitary Rules”, “Agro-industrial Policy” and “Transportation”.
Bora expressed his appreciation to Barseghyan and her colleagues from the EEC and also representatives of relevant Cambodian institutions and ministries for attending this important meeting via video link from different locations.
“[We’re] optimistic that this meeting will help to expand bilateral cooperation across potential fields based on mutual benefit, especially in being able to launch FTA negotiations between Cambodia and the EAEU in the future,” he said.
On December 4, 2019, commerce minister Pan Sorasak and Hidetoshi Nishimura, president of Jakarta-based Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), launched a report on the feasibility study on a potential FTA between the Kingdom and the EAEU at a ceremony held at the ministry.
This milestone study examined the key impacts of the would-be Cambodia-EAEU FTA (CEFTA) on the Kingdom and ASEAN in terms of trade, investment, welfare and growth on the domestic and regional economy.
And the study in turn laid the groundwork for the FTA that would allow both sides to increase trade, investment and economic collaboration.
Bilateral trade between Cambodia and the EAEU was worth $67.37 million last year, marking an increase of 18.22 per cent compared to $56.98 million in 2019, according to data compiled by the commerce ministry.
Of that, the Kingdom exported $52.19 million, rising 0.73 per cent year-on-year from $51.81 million in 2019, and imported $15.18 million – an enormous 193.57 per cent upsurge – in comparison to $5.17 million the previous year.
Comprising five member states – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia – the EAEU is home to 184.6 million people and represents a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $4.778 trillion, according to International Monetary Fund estimates for 2020.