Cambodia is urging stronger business ties among ASEAN member states to address challenges faced by the bloc’s economic community in order to boost global exports and regional economic growth.

The Kingdom has also encouraged potential partners to explore business prospects in the country.

The call was made during the ASEAN-Cambodia Business Summit, held alongside the official announcement of the White Book 2024 by the European Chamber of Commerce in Phnom Penh on September 28.

The summit was chaired by Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth and Kith Meng, president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) who also co-chairs the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC).

The event saw the participation of not only experts and businesspeople from across ASEAN, Europe and the Mekong region but also the French and German ambassadors to Cambodia, according to the CCC.

During the summit, Kith Meng underscored the significant economic growth potential of the Mekong region. He highlighted the common cultural ties, strong friendships and abundant resources and industrial structures across the countries in the region, emphasising their capacity to complement each other.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the CCC, said the meeting centred on enhancing regional business connectivity. This effort began within the Mekong region, which includes Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, with an aim to expand this connectivity to the broader ASEAN region through ASEAN integration.

He encouraged the meeting participants to explore business opportunities in Cambodia, including the establishment of factories and the export of products to international markets under free trade agreements (FTAs). He also noted the effectiveness of Cambodia’s annual government-private sector forum – scheduled for this coming November – in facilitating private sector development.

“We currently have four [Mekong] member countries, but our plan is to extend this initiative to include other ASEAN Economic Community members in the future. This represents a stride towards broadening and interlinking our economies for global markets, considering ASEAN’s substantial economic presence on the global stage,” he explained.

He expressed optimism regarding enhanced connectivity with partners throughout the ASEAN region, recognising the economic potential inherent in the ASEAN community as one of the largest global markets.

He specifically underscored the connectivity among the nations within the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which encompasses the 10 ASEAN member nations, along with China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.