The Cambodia-Philippines Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) held their third meeting via video conference on December 1-2 to discuss a wide range of cooperative efforts and to forge mutually beneficial ties between the two countries in the years to come.

The meeting was held between Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Skhonn and his Philippine counterpart Teodoro Locsin.

In a press release on December 3, the foreign ministry said the pair had an in-depth discussion on issues of common interest and explored the potential to expand and deepen the existing initiatives in areas such as political-security, defence, trade and investment.

They also discussed establishing new initiatives for cooperation in agriculture and agribusiness, tourism, air-connectivity, culture, labour, education and vocational training, science, technology and innovation, health and the environment.

“The two sides agreed to strengthen law enforcement to address the growing challenges facing the region such as terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms smuggling, money laundering, piracy on the high seas, cybercrimes, identity fraud and illegal wildlife trade,” said the press release.

They also pledged to do more to encourage two-way trade and investment through the arrangement of more trade events including trade fairs, exhibitions and business matching between import-export firms from the two countries.

The two countries’ chambers of commerce also signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at increasing trade and investment.

Sokhonn thanked the Philippines for providing full scholarships to Cambodian post-graduate students in the areas of science, mathematics and engineering in some of the top universities there.

He also encouraged Philippine investors to explore opportunities in Cambodia’s agricultural sector, especially in rice, vegetables and animal husbandry.

The ministry said Cambodia and the Philippines agreed to strengthen cooperation in the field of public health in areas such as primary healthcare, maternal and child health, communicable and non-communicable disease control through the exchange of information, experiences and best practices.

“Cambodia requested that the Philippines consider providing nursing courses and training programmes to Cambodian students given the fact that the Philippines is the world’s leading exporter of nurses,” the press release said.

Both sides agreed that 2022 will be a milestone year for diplomacy between them with the two countries marking the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.

“Celebrating this event will certainly add to the strength and vibrancy of the growing close relations between our two countries. In this respect, both sides stressed the importance of exchange visits by their leaders as one of the meaningful commemorative activities,” the ministry said.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, told The Post on December 5 that bilateral relations between Cambodia and the Philippines have progressed positively in many areas such as defence, the economy and healthcare.

“For the most part, the two countries share common views and there are no major differences,” he said. “However, there is one issue that the two may not be completely in agreement upon and that is the question of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea.”