Khmer Times - 31 October 2022
Cambodia-UAE 2nd round CEPA talks likely in Dec
By Kang Sothear
Senior government officials of Cambodia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday agreed in principle to arrange a second round of negotiation for the Cambodia-United Arab Emirates Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CAM-UAE CEPA) in December this year, according to a release from the Ministry of Commerce (MoC).
Pan Sorasak, Minister of MoC, and Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Secretary of Foreign Trade Affairs of UAE, reached an agreement to assign officials to prepare for the second round of CAM-UAE CEPA after the countries completed the first round of talks in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
In the first round of CEPA, both parties negotiated 18 chapters that cover sectors and parts that include goods and service trading, trade barriers, hygiene, phytosanitary, trade services, trade facilitation, origin-of-goods rules, economic cooperation, trade remedies, investment, property rights, laws and institutions for mutual and complementary benefits basis for “inclusive and sustainable economic development.”
The first round of CAM-UAE CEPA, held from October 24 to 26, was co-chaired by the Secretary of State of MoC Tekreth Kamrang and Juma Mohammed Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary Foreign Trade Affairs of UAE. Kamrang and Al Kait, who are also the chiefs of respective negotiating teams for CAM-UAE CEPA, signed a joint minute which is the main result of the first round of negotiation.
“The agreement is expected to strengthen bilateral relations between both sides through opening market channels more widely and provide more opportunities for investment for mutual benefits and deepening cooperation in other economic activities,” said Kamrang. Al Kait said both counterparts are serious about reaching an agreement.
The government has launched a plan to revive the economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, targeting a return to annual growth of seven percent. Seang Thai, secretary of state of MoC, told Khmer Times recently that the CEPA is more comprehensive than free trade agreements (FTAs) as it covers some sectors such as investment, services, trade facilitation, customs cooperation, competition, property rights, etc.
“The commerce ministry is the leading ministry in the negotiation and shall need an authorisation from the head of the government first,” he said, adding that if CEPA exists, an FTA is not required. The first meeting was attended by about 65 officials from different ministries and institutions.
Cambodia already enjoys special trading benefits with the other 14 countries under the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement, while Cambodia-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) is set to enter into force on December 1, 2022.