Croatia is keen to invest in Cambodia’s electric vehicles (EV) manufacturing industry, the development of international ports and tourism, and push bilateral trade beyond its historically limited range.

A meeting between Pich Rithi, secretary of state of the Ministry of Commerce, and newly appointed Croatian ambassador to Cambodia Ivan Velimir Starcevic was held to exchange views and discuss bilateral cooperation on May 6.

Starcevic, who resides in Kuala Lumpur, said Zagreb is strongly committed to encourage Croatian businessmen and investors to explore trade and investment potential in the EV, tourism and port development sectors.

“We will continue to strengthen good relations, especially in trade and investments which can help economic recovery and increase bilateral trade between both countries. The bilateral trade volume level is still small, only about $3 million in 2021,” he said.

The commerce ministry’s Rithi said Cambodia has made efforts to diversify trade by establishing free trade agreements to improve the business and investment environment in Cambodia.

“Cambodia is ready to welcome and help traders, investors and tourists who wish to expand economic, trade and investment cooperation in Cambodia,” he said.

According to Ky Sereyvath, an economics researcher with Royal Academy of Cambodia, the meeting was to enhance trade and economic relationship between the two countries on behalf of Cambodia as ASEAN chairman.

However, he said there might be challenges growing the trade and economic relationship as Croatia is a small country in Europe.

“Cambodia’s trade is focused in the EU but Croatia is welcome to invest in the EV sector, although investing in port management and tourism would be a secondary business,” he said.

For reference, in 2020, Cambodian exports to and imports from Croatia amounted to $2.23 million and $0.65475 million, respectively, according to Trading Economics.

The latest figures on the statistics website indicate that in 2020, “articles of apparel, knit or crocheted” accounted for $1.50 million or about two-thirds of Cambodia’s exports, while “residues, wastes of food industry, animal fodder” made up $0.4169 million or 63.7 per cent of the Kingdom’s imports.