Cambodia and Myanmar are in the process of expediting negotiations on two important draft agreements in a bid to swiftly increase trade cooperation with each other, citing low bilateral trade volume.
During a meeting between the leaders of the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce and the Myanmar Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations in Indonesia on May 18, Cambodian Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak called for the two sides to increase discussions on economic and trade progress “within the regional and bilateral frameworks aimed at boosting trade volume and boosting economic recovery”.
Aung Naing Oo, Myanmar Minister of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations, agreed, adding that the recent negotiations by Cambodia on the establishment of bilateral free trade agreements with China and South Korea were a sign of the Cambodian government’s success in building and expanding trade partnerships.
He said that negotiations on the draft Cambodia-Myanmar investment agreement and the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement between the two countries were being expedited “so that they can be signed in the near future”.
In the meeting, Sorasak also expressed his gratitude to Myanmar for supporting Cambodia as chair of the ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting earlier this year.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng told The Post that the two agreements would facilitate trade between the two countries, which, in spite of Myanmar’s continued battle with Covid-19 and its internal political crisis, would be beneficial to the two countries.
He added that the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement will make it easier for investors to pay taxes, which is an important factor that would attract more cross-border investors.
“Although the trade volume between Myanmar and Cambodia is still limited, this agreement will help boost trade between Cambodia and Myanmar,” he said.
“As ASEAN members, we and Myanmar have always facilitated trade with each other. So if these two agreements materialise, especially the agreement on avoiding double taxation, it will be easier for investors in both Cambodia and Myanmar.”
According to a commerce ministry report, bilateral trade volume between Cambodia and Myanmar “in the three years prior to the Covid-19 crisis” totalled just $20 million.
Annual bilateral trade between the two countries has remained tilted in Myanmar’s favour, increasing slightly more than twofold between 2019 and 2020 to $28.2 million, according to Trading Economics.
Cambodian imports from and exports to Myanmar in 2020 were to the tune of $24.93 million and $3.27 million, respectively, the latter of which dipped marginally from 2019.
The latest figures on the statistics website indicate that in 2020, “miscellaneous chemical products” accounted for $0.58585 million or about 17.9 per cent of Cambodia’s exports, while “tobacco and manufactures tobacco substitutes” made up $22.22 million or over 89 per cent of the Kingdom’s imports.