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Cambodia, Turkey aim high with plans for $1B in trade

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Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn (right) cuts the ceremonial red ribbon to officially open the Cambodian embassy in Ankara. SUPPLIED

Cambodia, Turkey aim high with plans for $1B in trade

Cambodia and Turkey have agreed to hold the third meeting of the Joint Economic Commission (JEC) “in the near future” to map out practical steps towards reaching the goal of at least $1 billion in annual bilateral trade, by leveraging the economic potential of both countries.

This is according to a February 28 press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on the results of minister Prak Sokhonn’s official visit to Turkey on February 26-27.

Trade between Cambodia and Turkey has remained fairly limited over the years, reaching just $87.6 million in 2020, according to the latest data provided by online platform Trading Economics.

Cambodian imports from and exports to Turkey in 2020 amounted to $18.80 million and $63.78 million, respectively. “Man-made staple fibres” were Cambodia’s top imports, reaching $6.04 million or 32 per cent, while “articles of apparel, knit or crocheted” were the Kingdom’s main exports, amounting to $24.30 million or 38.1 per cent.

The press release indicated that the decision to hold the third JEC meeting was motivated by a notable uptick in the frequency of meetings held between businesspeople of both countries.

The release highlighted a recent meeting held in Turkey between a delegation of the ministry’s Economic Diplomacy Working Group, the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and Ankara-based Industrialist Businesswomen and Businessmen Confederation (SANKON).

Sokhonn and his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu also affirmed their readiness to hold the third political consultation meeting between the two foreign ministries “in the near future”, the release said.

The two leaders also agreed to further enhance parliamentary-level cooperation through the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on parliamentary cooperation, it added.

“The two ministers expressed their high appreciation and their willingness to further explore and expand the good cooperation between the two countries to commensurate with the potentials of the two countries in the areas of trade, education, training, health, textile, transport, construction, energy, agriculture, repair and maintenance, tourism and demining. They were rejoiced that agreement of the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investment has entered into force.

“At the end of the meeting, the two ministers signed … [an agreement] on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and [an MoU] on Cooperation in the Field of Protocol,” the release said.
It highlighted that Turkey, a Group of 20 (G20) member, is the first European country to pen a double tax treaty with the Kingdom.

At a February 27 meeting on Cambodia-Turkey economic cooperation in Ankara, CCC vice-president Lim Heng hailed the two countries as “prosperous civilisations” with relations defined by strong economic, political and diplomatic partnerships.

Turkey serves as an important hub and entry point to the European market for Cambodian goods, he said, suggesting that the Kingdom’s strategic position at the heart of the ASEAN region has great potential to become “the main gateway” to the bloc for Turkish products.

For investors and exporters, he said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) provides greater market access for Cambodian products to a range of markets covering 30 per cent of the world’s population.

Additionally, the Kingdom benefits from duty-free concessions from China, South Korea, the US, UK, EU and ASEAN, he pointed out.

“The two countries have signed an agreement on the protection and promotion of investment,” Heng said, noting that a preliminary goal had been set for annual bilateral trade to breach the $500 million mark.

SANKON president Ferudun Cevahiroglu said his confederation was “ready” to work with Cambodia in key areas, including construction, energy, mineral resources and technology, starting with the implementation of joint projects under build-operate-transfer (BOT) schemes or other public-private partnership (PPP) arrangements.

He added that all cooperation projects will be carried out through the Cambodian Embassy in Turkey, the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce and the Turkish Federation of Industrial Businessmen. He will lead a business delegation to visit Cambodia.

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