Cambodia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, aimed at strengthening trade and investment between the two nations.

The June 8 signing ceremony was presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of International Trade, at the Peace Palace.

Hun Sen’s personal assistant Eang Sophalleth said after the meeting that the UAE, through Al Zeyoudi, expressed satisfaction with the agreement, which it expected would bring the economies and people of the two countries closer together.

“This agreement will bring benefits to both countries. The prime minister encouraged the UAE to consider investing in agriculture, as Cambodia has about 6 million tonnes of paddy rice that can be exported,” he added.

He explained that Hun Sen proposed that the UAE consider the establishment of rice mills, warehouses and cashew processing facilities

“At the same time, he asked the UAE to consider pushing for a double tax agreement, to encourage investors and direct flights between the two countries,” he added.

Prior to the signing, the UAE delegation met with Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak on June 7. The courtesy call was also an opportunity to discuss the possibility of further strengthening and expanding cooperation in all fields, especially trade and investment. The talks were attended by senior officials, businessmen and investors from both countries, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

“In this spirit, the two sides agreed to push for the ratification of the economic agreement so that investors, businessmen, producers, traders, as well as consumers of both sides can seize the economic benefits and business and investment opportunities that this agreement will provide in the future,” it added.

UAE investors and businesspeople from the fields of energy, agriculture, ports, logistics and the Investment Council also introduced themselves during the meeting, and discussed the potential for future cooperation in their respective sectors.

Minister of Environment Say Samal met with Al Zeyoudi later that day.

During the meeting, the Emirates requested Cambodia’s support for the hosting of the 28th United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP-28) later this year in Dubai, according to the Ministry of Environment.

Say Samal briefed his guest on some key areas that could be the basis for boosting bilateral trade between the two countries, such as honey, cashew nuts, agar wood, organic milled rice and brown rice, and other community products.

Al Zeyoudi said he would send a technical team to study the proposed cooperation.

While meeting with Minister of Tourism Thong Khon, the Emirates expressed interest in exploring tourism in Cambodia. Khon informed the visiting delegates that the Kingdom has many tourism investment opportunities, and needs to develop new tourism products to contribute to its policy of attracting more international tourists.

Hong Vannak, an economist at the Institute of International Relations at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that overall relations between Cambodia and the United Arab Emirates were good, although trade volume between the two countries was limited. He expected the bilateral trade agreement to boost trade and investment.

“This agreement will enhance trade between Cambodia and the UAE, as well as encouraging other Arab nations to form ties with Cambodia,” he added.

In addition, he saw another important point as Cambodia’s thriving agricultural sector.

“The UAE is predominantly desert, so it has limited agricultural output. In addition, Cambodia now manufactures products like electronic components, bicycles and tyres, so we can focus on additional exports,” he said.