The Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and Australia’s Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry plan to organise a joint Cambodia-Australia Business Forum in March next year, timing it to coincide with the ASEAN-Australia summit, set to take place in Melbourne. 

Plans for the forum were discussed by a CCC delegation and their Australian counterparts in Melbourne last week, according to Lim Heng, CCC vice-president.

Heng said on November 28 that the CCC has established two representative offices in Australia: one in Melbourne, and another in Sydney, to boost trade relations between the two countries.

He said the two offices will strengthen communication among the business communities of both countries and business-to-business infrastructure (B2B), easing and making communications faster, particularly important as the nations are enforcing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

“Next year’s trade forum will be a driver for further close cooperation between the two countries,” Heng said.

Heng added that during his visit to Australia to set up the two representative offices, he visited several industrial parks and farms, and held meetings with Australian business community. Through these opportunities, he hoped that trade volume between the two countries will increase.

“At next year’s forum, we intend to invite Prime Minister Hun Manet to deliver a keynote speech which will boost investment from Australia. Moreover, as CCC president Kit Meng will serve as ASEAN Business Forum chair, we expect the forum to be a success, and will collaborate with the CCC offices and the Cambodian embassy in Australia ensure it goes well,” he continued.

Australia is interested in importing materials and food supplies from Cambodia, with particular demand for textiles, electrical devices and parts. Crops that are of interest to Australia include avocado, chili, sesame, sweet potato, longan, mango, cashew, palm sugar, and banana chips, all of which produced by the Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain Program (CAVAC), according to Heng.

Hong Vanak, economic analyst at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that since Australia and Cambodia first established diplomatic relations in 1952, Australia has shown commitment to supporting the development of Cambodia. Both countries have strengthened their ties in both bilateral and multilateral aspects, for their mutual interests.

“Beyond trade volume, the Australian government has provided financial and technical assistance to Cambodia to promote the Kingdom’s agriculture productivity capacity. We see that trade between the two countries had increased through good cooperation, as both countries are members of the RCEP,” Vanak explained.

Trade volume between Cambodia and Australia in 2021 was $324 million. In 2022, the volume jumped to $523 million, an increase of nearly $200 million. In the first 7 months of this year, it totalled $295 million, marking a decrease of 7 per cent compared to the same period in 2022, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).