National Assembly (NA) president Heng Samrin requested that the new Australian ambassador to Cambodia, Justin Whyatt, help promote bilateral trade and increase the number of scholarships for Cambodian students.

During his courtesy call on Samrin on March 15, Whyatt ensured that he would continue to support cooperation in many areas with the Kingdom, according to an NA social media post following the meeting.

“[Whyatt’s] diplomatic mission is very important to further tighten the bonds of friendship and cooperation between Cambodia and Australia,” said the post.

Australia has made many contributions to the Kingdom’s development, Samrin said, citing its donations of vaccines and medical equipment, among others, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Samrin also thanked the government and people of Australia for contributing to the pursuit of peace and development in areas such as agriculture, infrastructure and mine clearance work.

“I requested the Australian side to continue to promote bilateral trade, investment and tourism, and also suggested they increase the number of scholarships they make available to Cambodian students to pursue their studies in Australia,” Samrin was quoted as saying.

He noted that the Cambodian and Australian parliaments have worked closely together and frequently exchanged visits to share experiences with one another.

“We have always supported each other in inter-parliamentary forums in the region, and the world,” he added.

Whyatt celebrated the Kingdom’s economic growth and its successful control of Covid-19. He also commended the NA for successfully hosting the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), and for its contribution to the 2020 Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum, which was hosted by Australia.

“We will continue to strengthen our cooperation with Cambodia in many other areas, including health, economy, security, counterterrorism, human rights and the democratic process,” Whyatt was quoted as saying.

According to the Cambodian Ministry of Economy and Finance, bilateral trade volume between the two nations increased from $205.8 million in 2019 to $523.6 million in 2022, and that many projects had been implemented through grants from the Australian government.

“These programme include the Cambodia-Australia Agricultural Value Chain Programme (CAVAC), investments in infrastructure (3i), Partnerships for Infrastructure (P4I), the Mekong-Australia Partnership (MAP), the Australia-Cambodia Cooperation for Equitable Sustainable Services (ACCESS), and the Cambodia-Australia Partnership for Resilient Economic Development (CAP-RED), which are worth around $65 million,” it added.

Cambodia and Australia established diplomatic relations in 1952.