Cambodia and Bangladesh committed yesterday to a host of initiatives to enhance trade ties, including updating the terms of their 2006 trade agreement.
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The commerce ministers of both countries met yesterday in Phnom Penh and discussed the apparently failed agreement to send one million tonnes of Cambodian rice to Bangladesh and the creation of a direct flight between Phnom Penh and Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital.
Cambodian Minister Pan Sorasak told reporters after the meeting that he will be leading a delegation to Dhaka in June to update the trade agreement that was signed with the South Asian nation in 2006.
“Cambodia will consider importing Bangladesh’s environmentally friendly jute gunny bags which we will use for rice storage, as well as its world-class pharmaceuticals, ceramic ware, leather hides and finished leather products,” Mr Sorasak said.
“In return, we expect Bangladesh to consider buying some of our agricultural products, primarily corn, pepper, dried cassava and cashew nuts.”
With regards to the 2017 purchasing agreement to sell one million tonnes of Cambodian rice to Bangladesh – which was never carried out and described as invalid in some media outlets – Mr Sorasak said that it had run into some technical difficulties, but that there is still time to fulfill the terms, as the shipments were supposed to take place between 2017 and 2022.
“We still have time to complete the shipments, but we first have to solve some technical issues,” he said, without going into further detail.
The Bangladeshi Minister, Tofail Ahmed, concurred with his Cambodian counterpart in the subject, saying that there is still time to complete the massive shipment.
“We are also discussing the establishment of a direct flight between our nations, as many Bangladeshis want to visit Cambodia. With good air connectivity, business between Cambodian and Bangladesh would thrive,” he said.
Saida Muna Tasneem, Bangladesh’s Ambassador to Cambodia and Thailand, said it is a very momentous time for trade between both nations.
Two years ago, bilateral trade amounted to just $4 million, but now it has reached $6.4 million, she said, adding that it is the result of several events organised recently, including a business-matching event in January 2017.
Ms Muna Tasneem said she expects two-way trade to be worth $8 million by the end of this year.
“There is interest in our business community to come to Cambodia to invest in rice mills and food-processing plants, but our investors are demanding more special incentives from the government,” she said.