The Kingdom has identified a number of key priority areas to be addressed at the third meeting of the Cambodia-Turkey Joint Economic Commission (JEC) to be held in October seeking to deepen bilateral cooperation and to maximise benefits, according to an August 24 commerce ministry statement.

The draft agenda for the meeting was discussed at an August 24 inter-ministerial gathering presided over by Ministry of Commerce secretary of state Tekreth Kamrang and attended by leaders and experts of the ministry and 12 other institutions, the statement noted.

The key priority areas for the October meeting that were listed on the joint minutes of the gathering included trade, investment, business, industry, science, technology and innovation, halal affairs, small- and medium-sized enterprises, agriculture, transportation, civil aviation, health, education and tourism, it added.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng stressed that the number of agreements between the two countries makes it imperative to hold such key economic meetings and discuss steps to improve cooperation and potentially advance bilateral trade beyond their historically low levels.

According to the commerce ministry statement, bilateral trade between Cambodia and Turkey reached $462.63 million in the five years from 2017-2021, with last year alone accounting for $90.63 million, which had risen by 2.06 per cent over 2020, despite Covid. This means that the annual average from 2017-2019 was a bit higher at $94.4 million.

Major Cambodian exports to Turkey comprise garments, textiles, footwear, travel goods, milled rice, and umbrellas while key imports include machinery, pharmaceuticals, glass panels, iron and steel, and plastics, it said.

Heng said the Cambodia-Turkey JEC’s third meeting would explore additional channels to diversify and expand trade between the Kingdom and the regional business hub he claimed has emerged as an attractive destination to the Cambodian export community.

He suggested that there is “great potential” for Cambodian players to connect with Turkish businesspeople and promote investment in the Kingdom. Heng also shared that on a visit to Turkey in February, the CCC met with the transcontinental country’s business community and invited them to Cambodia to explore investment opportunities.

The CCC vice-president made the case for Cambodia as a valuable trading partner, explaining that the Kingdom: trades with a multitude of countries; enjoys preferential trade arrangements with the US, UK and EU; has entered into bilateral free trade agreements with China and South Korea; and is a signatory of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – the world’s largest trade pact.