Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn urged the Ministry of Interior to strengthen ties with Canada as its foreign policy was favourable to Cambodia.
“Canada has stressed the promotion of bilateral and regional trade and investment, mine clearance initiatives, the promotion of a rules-based international order, and local capacity building for responding to transnational crime threats in the region,” Sokhonn wrote to interior minister Sar Kheng in a recent letter seen by The Post on Wednesday.
Sokhonn referred to a letter he received from Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois Philippe Champagne. In the letter, Champagne thanked Sokhonn for wishing Canada a happy 153rd National Day.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is of the view that the Ministry of Interior use this occasion to strengthen and expand Cambodia’s partnership with Canada in certain priority areas,” Sokhonn said.
Champagne wrote to Sokhonn last month that Canada deeply valued its long-standing and multi-faceted relationship with Cambodia. He said Canada looked forward to enhancing the collaboration to achieve common objectives on regional and global priorities, notably through the UN and as a dialogue partner with ASEAN.
Champagne said he recognised that ASEAN remained central to the prosperity and security of Canada and the region.
“We are eager to continue working with Cambodia on issues of mutual importance such as the enhancement of bilateral and regional trade and investment, mine clearance initiatives, the promotion of a rules-based international order, and local capacity building for responding to translational crime threats in the region,” he said.
He expressed his full support for the establishment of bilateral consultations between the two foreign ministries. This would allow them to enhance economic cooperation and promote the exchange of ideas and economic development.
“I look forward to working together to deepen our engagement for the mutual benefit of our citizens,” he said.
Interior ministry spokesman Phat Sophanit said Sokhonn’s letter was a notification to ministries and institutions in case they wish to establish cooperation with Canada amid this good bilateral relationship.
“The interior ministry doesn’t have official cooperation in the form of a memorandum of understanding or other official agreements with Canada. We only have cooperation on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
Sokhonn met outgoing Canadian ambassador Donica Pottie last year and thanked her for Canada’s support in the field of mine clearance, education, peacekeeping and climate change.
Pottie told Sokhonn the trade volume between the two countries had increased 800 per cent after Canada opened its embassy in Phnom Penh in 2016.
She said Canada provided Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) to developing countries without human rights as a string attached, according to a ministry press release issued at the time.
Trade between the two nations reached $1 billion last year with apparels the main export products from Cambodia, according to the Council of Ministers.
Royal Academy of Cambodia President Sok Touch said Cambodia stands to gain from closer relations with Canada.
“Even though there are many Cambodians living there, our state-to-state relations seem loose in all generations. If the two countries have good relations now, it is good because we can export products including textiles,” he said.