Phnom Penh Post | 30 September 2020
FTA with Mongolia under study
by Thou Vireak
The government is studying the possibility of a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with Mongolia.
Ministry of Commerce secretary of state and Cambodia-Mongolia Bilateral Free Trade Agreement negotiation working group chairman Reach Ra led a meeting on Tuesday to exchange views on the Concept Note concerning an FTA feasibility study.
Present at the meeting were officials from the Council for the Development of Cambodia and the ministries of Economy and Finance ; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries ; and Labour and Vocational Training.
Ra said the establishment of an FTA is in line with the government’s Rectangular Strategy Phase IV to diversify markets and trade, and smoothen economic restoration in a post-Covid-19 world.
He noted that the Concept Note was prepared by the Jakarta-based Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (Eria) and said the meeting decided to propose the ERIA expedite the completion of the research report.
“We will urge the working group to continue its efforts to make the feasibility study of this FTA a success. I sincerely hope the meeting with the ERIA will bear fruit in the future,” Ra said.
Commerce ministry acting spokesman Pen Sovicheat told The Post on Wednesday that the FTA feasibility study will assist the implementation of Cambodia’s trade integration policy and strategy to diversify trade partners regionally and globally.
He said the commerce ministry is currently negotiating an FTA with South Korea and studying the possibility of establishing similar deals with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) bloc, which comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.
“The ministry has been striving to expand to more new markets. We are a country with great agricultural potential that has the power to transform agriculture into agro-industry.
“From our point of view, we are capable of exporting agricultural products to the world market, including to Mongolia,” Sovicheat said.
Cambodia and Mongolia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2014 on the establishment of bilateral consultations aimed at strengthening bilateral cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, investment and tourism.
In addition to FTAs with China and South Korea, the government is also looking at the possibility of establishing agreements with India, Australia, the US, Canada, the UK, New Zealand and Japan.
The World Bank has said the Kingdom needs to be well-prepared for the post-Covid-19 economy, which will require a strong focus on regional investment and expanding trade opportunities.
There is an urgent need to facilitate domestic and foreign investment by increasing domestic value and creating more jobs, the Washington DC-based lending institution said.