Khmer Times | 20 May 2022
Cambodia, India mulling free trade pact establishment
by Chea Vanyuth
Cambodia and India have accelerated their internal technical work to establish the negotiation for a bilateral free trade agreement, stressing that the pact would enhance trade, investment, and cooperation in other sectors.
Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi discussed this during a virtual meeting on Wednesday.
Both sides emphasised the need for cooperation in investment, trade, culture, and tourism sectors in the meeting.
Mr Hun Sen asked the Indian side to accelerate the internal technical work for the possibility of an FTA negotiation and accelerate the negotiation to finish the draft of the bilateral investment treaty between Cambodia and India.
The two-way trade between Cambodia and India decreased to $300 million in 2021 due to the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cambodia has formed a working group to study the potential and possibility of the establishment of FTA negotiation with India, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
The two countries are finalising studies by each working group on the possibility of negotiating the establishment of a free trade agreement, said Pen Sovicheat, the ministry’s undersecretary of state and spokesman.
“India is a big market. Getting India’s market, Cambodia will diversify the market for export,” he said.
Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, said that more FTAs would enlarge markets for Cambodia’s products and promote investment.
“Once we have more FTAs with big markets like China and South Korea we can boost exports more and attract investment. India is also a big market,” Heng said.
Mr Hun Sen said the establishment of direct flights between India and Cambodia would boost the tourism sector, especially after the Kingdom has removed some restrictions related to Covid-19.
“The establishment of direct flights from India to Phnom Penh and from India to Siem Reap will boost tourism between the two countries, especially since Cambodia is now open to adequately vaccinated tourists. There is no need for PCR or rapid tests on arrival,” the Premier said.
The direct flights between the two nations would not only serve tourists but also attract investment in tourism sectors in the Kingdom, Heng pointed out.
The two countries are scheduled to mark the 70th year anniversary of Cambodia-India diplomatic relations this year, which is believed to enhance cooperation and strengthen ties between the two nations.
The Cambodian government targets to make bilateral FTAs with the main trade countries. Currently, the Kingdom has a bilateral FTA with China and South Korea. It is also finalising studies by each working group on the possibility of negotiating the establishment of a free trade agreement with Japan.