Foreign minister Sok Chenda Sophea is attending the 3rd EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum (EU-IPMF), as well as the 24th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM). Both are being held in Brussels, Belgium on February 1 and 2.

According to a January 31 statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Chenda Sophea was personally invited by Josep Borrell Fontelles, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and vice-president of the European Commission.

At the EU-IPMF, Chenda Sophea is expected to speak about the importance of shared prosperity, economic resilience and investment, with the aim of invigorating cooperation and partnerships between the two regions. He will discuss how capitalising on their strengths will inject new impetus into inclusive growth and sustainable development.

The statement added that the AEMM will be co-chaired by the Philippines, as the current country coordinator for ASEAN-EU dialogue.

It said the ASEAN and EU foreign ministers will follow up on the decisions made at the 2022 ASEAN-EU summit, and review the progress of the implementation of the ASEAN-EU Plan of Action 2023-27.

In addition, the ministers will exchange views on regional and internal issues of common concern and interest, in order to advance the ASEAN-EU Strategic Partnership and their collective commitment for maintaining peace, security, stability, and prosperity for the peoples of both regions.

“During his time in Brussels, Chenda Sophea is also slated to hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from various EU member states and development partners, in order to further strengthen bilateral ties and cooperation,” added the ministry.

Hong Vanak, an economist at the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said the outcome of the meetings could well be an increase in bilateral cooperation between Cambodia and the EU.

“We have already established strong bilateral cooperation with several EU members. Cooperation within the ASEAN-EU framework will strengthen this cooperation,” he explained.

He noted that although the EU has withdrawn 20 per cent of its Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trade scheme, the Kingdom still receives many benefits from the European bloc.

Vanak added that attending the Brussels meetings will demonstrate that Cambodia welcomes further cooperation between Cambodia and the EU member states.

“I believe these meetings are meaningful, will complement the cooperation Cambodia already has with the EU bloc and its bilateral European partners, which were developed during the era of former Prime Minister Hun Sen,” he said.