Cambodia Nearly There In EAEU Free Trade Agreement

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Just needs Kazakhstan’s approval with new Ambassador set to discuss terms

All members of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) have voiced backing for formal talks on a Cambodia-EAEU free trade agreement (CEFTA), except for Kazakhstan, according to a senior official at the Cambodia Ministry of Commerce.

Comprising five member states – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia, the EAEU is home to 184.6 million people and represents a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$4.778 trillion, according to International Monetary Fund estimates for 2020.

Cambodian Minister and Undersecretary of State Pen Sovicheat has stated that his ministry, which oversees dealing with issues concerning the Cambodia-Eurasian Economic Union Free Trade Agreement, has been actively working to push for the start of formal negotiations “as soon as possible”.

“Of the five member countries of the EAEU, four have voiced support for free trade talks with Cambodia. And we have Russia helping to facilitate this work.” Sovicheat said.

He said closer relations with the bloc would bring great benefits to Cambodia, such as the opening of more market corridors, increased investment from the five countries and access to new technologies, as well as scientific and economic cooperation.

“The Cambodian Ministry of Commerce strongly believes that talks can begin soon, depending on the consensus among the five countries, with Russia as a mediator.” he said.

On Last week, Cambodian ambassador to Turkey Kim Heng Meas and his Kyrgyz counterpart Kubanychbek Omuraliev met to discuss prospects for trade and economic cooperation under the potential CEFTA, and separate deals between Cambodia and Kyrgyzstan on free trade, double tax avoidance and visa-free regimes.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, highlighted Kyrgyzstan’s “strong economic potential” from among EAEU member states.

He said that June 1’s dialogue in Turkey demonstrated that the two sides “want to know more about what kind of goods can be exchanged in order to facilitate their domestic production, to boost production in accordance with the needs of partner countries”.

Sovicheat said an official Cambodian envoy would travel to Kazakhstan “in the near future” and present his credentials to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and pay a courtesy call to foreign minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi, in hopes that the last EAEU country will then accept the Cambodia-Eurasian Economic Union FTA.

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and the EAEU was worth US$67.37 million last year, increasing by 18.22 per cent over US$56.98 million in 2019, according to data from the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce.

Of that, Cambodia’s exports were worth US$52.19 million, slightly up by 0.73% year-on-year from US$51.81 million in 2019, while Cambodia imported US$15.18 million from the EAEU, up 193.57% from US$5.17 million in 2019.

Most of Cambodia’s exports to the EAEU are agricultural and textile products, while major imports include tractor machinery and agricultural vehicle parts.

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