Prime Minister Hun Sen who is in Brussels with a delegation to attend the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting from October 18 to 19, is set to have separate bilateral meetings with leaders such as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Hun Sen was mostly welcomed by the Cambodian community abroad and congratulated on his presence at the international meeting, adding details will be released afterwards.
Political analyst Hang Vitou said any expected protest from the Cambodian diaspora would have no consequence on the government’s visit to Europe.
“In the world stage, not only the Cambodian leader but almost all leaders have faced protests with some people disapproving of them [when they] visit somewhere. Even [US President] Donald Trump and Chinese leaders have faced protests when they visited some countries,” said Vitou.
He said the bilateral meeting with Keqiang might be a closed-door affair to discuss some issues where Cambodia is seeking China’s assistance.
“As you know, at the moment Cambodia needs China to help with the internal political, economic and diplomatic issues because the government seems to have issues with the liberal world."
“Therefore, Cambodia, like it or not, has to further strengthen its relations with China at this bilateral meeting,” Vitou said.
Hun Sen met with a representative of the Asean-EU Business Council, Martin Hayes, who is chairman of Bosch in Southeast Asia.
The prime minister said some countries in the EU had threatened Cambodia and Myanmar with the removal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.
He said that the EU has helped Cambodia a lot, wanting to see the Kingdom prosper.
But any EU withdrawal of the EBA would imply that it has abandoned what it had worked so hard for.
Hayes informed Hun Sen that the Asean-EU Business Council plans to lead companies on a visit to Cambodia next year to bring more European investment to the Kingdom.
The EU Business Council, he said, has confidence in Cambodia and is willing to invest for the long-term.
The Asean-EU Business Council, with 400 European companies, said recently that if the Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trade agreement is withdrawn from Cambodia, it would affect the EU’s companies.
Hence, EU-Asean business representatives will meet directly with the European Council on the question of the EBA as it will be affected and lose the benefits enjoyed by many European companies that are investing in the Kingdom.
Hun Sen reaffirmed that although the Cambodian Investment and Trade Law has been revised, it won’t affect the investments of those companies in Cambodia, but only improves on their long-term investment in Cambodia.
Hun Sen also welcomed the good cooperation between the business councils of Europe and Cambodia and embraced their plans to visit the Kingdom.
He proposed further discussions with the Cambodian Ministry of Public Work and Transport.
The prime minister reciprocated by inviting the Asean-EU Business Council to attend the 2020 Asia Europe Summit which Cambodia is hosting.