UK minister for Indo-Pacific Anne-Marie Trevelyan is paying her first visit to Cambodia. Her March 2-4 trip aims to strengthen cooperation in trade, economic development and education.

During the visit, Trevelyan is scheduled to meet with Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth to discuss the UK’s support for sustainable development in Cambodia, including green infrastructure, said a March 3 press release from the UK embassy in Phnom Penh.

The release explained that trade and investment between the two kingdoms continues to develop, driven by several initiatives, including a trade scheme for developing countries with annual bilateral trade worth more than £1 billion (over $1.2 billion).

It added that Cambodia is also a priority country for the UK’s Investment Partnership programme, which encourages private sector investment in high-quality sustainable infrastructure projects to support development.

Trevelyan said she is pleased to pay her first visit, describing Cambodia as a country with an incredible ancient history which has recently overcome several difficulties and become one of the fastest-growing economies in the ASEAN bloc.

“‘The UK-Cambodia bilateral relationship is growing across various sectors and we are committed to supporting the country on the next stage of its development journey. 

“I’m looking forward to hearing more about how our British Investment Partnerships work is delivering for Cambodia and the role of UK education in developing talent here,” she was quoted as saying in the press release.

UK ambassador to Cambodia Dominic Williams said he “enthusiastically” welcomed Trevelyan’s visit, the first by a British minister since the government of Prime Minister Hun Manet took office in August 2023. He believed her arrival is a “visible demonstration” of the UK’s desire to strengthen cooperation with Cambodia.

“The UK is committed to supporting job-creating economic growth in Cambodia, through sustainable investment, development initiatives and trade.

“The visit will also be an opportunity for open discussion on key national and international issues. I’m pleased that the minister will be able to hear from a range of Cambodians about the future,” he said. 

While in Phnom Penh, Trevelyan will visit the new sister campus of the UK’s Leicester-based De Montfort University, the first UK university to open a branch in Cambodia. She will meet with university staff and other education providers, before the university welcomes its first student body in 2024.

Promoting access to education for Cambodians, especially women and girls, is a long-term priority in UK-Cambodia relations, added the release.

In addition to existing programmes, in 2023 the UK committed £30 million ($37 million) to increase access to education for women and girls across Southeast Asia.

The funding will support approximately 100,000 women and girls through the provision of scholarships and additional classes, as well as teacher training to improve the quality of lessons, explained the release.

It added that as a signal of the UK’s respect for the “rich history” of Cambodia, Trevelyan will also visit the National Museum of Cambodia to admire the artefacts which were recently returned from the UK.

During her visit, she is also scheduled to meet with several civil society organisations and hear about their work on good governance, transparency, protection and the empowerment of women in the country.