The Australian government has pledged to donate over A$56 million (around $38 million) to Cambodia as aid for the 2023-2024 period to bolster the Kingdom’s socio-economic development, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affair and International Cooperation.

The commitment, outlined in the ministry’s July 25 press release, was substantiated in a joint letter penned by Australian foreign minister Penny Wong and Pat Conroy, who serves as both Minister for International Development and the Pacific and Minister for Defence Industry. The letter was addressed to Cambodia’s foreign minister Prak Sokhonn.

In total, Australia plans to provide an estimated $A83.6 million in official development assistance (ODA) to Cambodia in 2023-24. This sum includes $A47.9 million in bilateral agreements, with the remaining funds delivered through global and regional programmes.

This ODA commitment signifies an increase from the $A80.8 million contributed in 2022-23. Australia’s aid, designed to align with Cambodia’s aspirations and its National Strategic Development Plan, will continue to support the Kingdom’s societal and economic progress. This includes improving public services, enhancing infrastructure, encouraging healthcare reforms and assisting in the establishment of social protection systems, especially for women and those with disabilities.

The ministry’s statement also emphasised Australia’s ongoing commitment to supporting Cambodia’s ambitions.

“The Australian government looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia to advance both countries’ shared priorities,” it said.

“Cambodia highly appreciates Australia’s continuous provision of ODA to t over the years despite the seriously negative impact of COVID-19 on her economy. This gesture is a vivid testimony to the ever-growing strength of deeply cherished friendship and solidarity between Cambodia and Australia,” it added.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said on July 25 that Australia’s support has been beneficial to Cambodia. He also touched upon the geopolitical implications of the aid.

“Regarding the security partnership alliance between Australia, the UK, and the US, Australia is the US’ right hand in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said, referring to the AUKUS trilateral security pact.

“Therefore, this assistance also signifies US involvement. Contrary to some dissenting views, the US has not entirely abandoned Cambodia.”