During a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Manet, the Business Council of Australia (BCA) has agreed to establish an additional mechanism – the Cambodia-Australian Business Council – to facilitate trade and investment between the two countries.

The agreement was reached during Manet’s March 4 meeting with Bran Black, executive director of the BCA, on the sidelines of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit 2024 in Melbourne, Australia, according to the premier’s social media post.

During the discussions, Manet encouraged the BCA to cooperate with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Commerce as well as the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC).

The prime minister reiterated how the Cambodian government values the role of the private sector in contributing to the Kingdom’s socio-economic development.

“The meeting was an opportunity to encourage the Australian private sector to explore and expand investment in Cambodia. We welcome the intention of the BCA to promote cooperation and ensure investment,” he said.

He added that Cambodia has introduced investment policies and laws that encourage the private sector to invest in the country, and noted the Kingdom’s extensive regional links, as well as other free trade agreements (FTAs), at both bilateral and multilateral levels.

“The Cambodian government pays close attention to encouraging investment in digital technology and the manufacture of electrical and automotive components, as well as agriculture and tourism, to boost economic growth,” Manet told the meeting.

While it is not immediately clear precisely how the package will be used to enhance business engagement between Australia and Cambodia, Hong Vanak, an economist at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, believes its unveiling demonstrated the momentum of bilateral trade and economic relations between the two regions.

He said Cambodia and Australia have already made a step forward in trade, with several Australian firms expressing an interest in investing in Cambodia, particularly in the agriculture sector, to export products to their country. He mentioned other Australian firms which have invested in the Kingdom, such as Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) which operates gold mines.

When divided between the ASEAN member states, Vanak acknowledged that the $2 billion package is not large, but thought Cambodia would benefit from it and the bilateral trade would be enhanced.

“I believe the Kingdom will see more interest from Australian investors, both in bilateral terms and under the RCEP framework,” he said.

The 2024 ASEAN-Australia Special Summit officially kicked off on March 5, with the ASEAN leaders welcomed with an indigenous smoking ceremony by aboriginal Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Bill Nicholson and a performance from the Djirri Djirri Dance Group.

The summit plenary session is scheduled for March 6, according to the Cabinet statement.