This week, Australian special envoy for Southeast Asia Nicholas Moore paid a visit to Phnom Penh. His visit spurred the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) to urge for the hastening of a study regarding the creation of agricultural industrial parks in the country, according to CCC vice-president Lim Heng.

Heng noted that both Cambodia and Australia are pushing for the establishment of such parks. The aim is to enhance the production and processing of Cambodian products for export to international markets.

“The CCC, in collaboration with the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh through the Cambodia-Australia Agricultural Value Chain Programme (CAVAC), is advocating for the establishment of the parks. The potential location could be in Cambodia’s northwest, forming the country’s fourth economic pole,” he said.

A closed-door meeting was held with the special envoy on July 10 to discuss major projects, primarily the agricultural industrial park endeavour.

“The meeting was aimed at fostering bilateral cooperation between Cambodia and Australia in industry, trade and economies. The concept of agro-industrial parks was raised during our talks,” Heng elaborated.

The proposed agro-food industrial parks hold significant importance for Cambodia. It aligns with the country’s policy to enhance secondary industry for agricultural products, reducing the need for importing raw materials and the associated costs.

The government has identified three provinces – Battambang, Kampong Speu and Kampong Thom – in which to develop agro-food industrial parks. These are anticipated to function as special economic zones, enhancing production and the processing of agricultural products.

Ky Sereyvath, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, voiced his support for the parks. He highlighted its potential to consolidate all agro-industrial production chains in Cambodia.

Sereyvath suggested that the government set up lighting systems, one-window service offices, and transport systems to connect raw material production areas. He also stressed the need to encourage and upskill human resources in the private sector to participate in this sector.

CCC noted that Moore visited as part of his regional consultations to inform the development of Australia’s Southeast Asia economic strategy for the years leading up to 2040.

“I am keen to understand local perspectives in Phnom Penh on how Australia can support Cambodia’s growing economy. Australia has a lot to offer Cambodia and the wider region as a trusted and reliable partner,” Moore was quoted as saying in an embassy press release.

The release further noted that during his visit, the special envoy would join the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) to launch a “Handbook on Investing in Cambodia”.

This handbook serves as a practical guide for Australian and other foreign investors interested in Cambodian opportunities, with an emphasis on the 2021 Law on Investment.