Cambodia and Sri Lanka yesterday pledged to boost trade cooperation during a business forum held in Phnom Penh and officiated by the countries’ leaders.
Speaking at the Cambodia-Sri Lanka Business Forum, held in Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra, Prime Minister Hun Sen urged Sri Lankan businesses to consider investing in the Kingdom.
“I would like to see more Sri Lankan investors choosing Cambodia as an investment destination. I want to see more Sri Lankans starting businesses here or expanding their investments,” Mr Hun Sen said.
“Cambodia welcomes all investors. The government treats both local and foreign investors equally,” Mr Hun Sen noted.
The Cambodia-Sri Lanka Business Forum coincides with the official visit of the president of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, who arrived yesterday for a four-day visit to the Kingdom.
Vasantha Senanayak, Sri Lanka’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the business forum will jump-start relations between the two countries.
He said the forum will help participants understand in what sectors trade cooperation can be strengthened.
“Attracting more businesses and investment requires a certain mechanism. In this regard, I can confirm that we will start negotiations on a double taxation avoidance agreement and an investment protection agreement that will lead to greater economic cooperation,” Mr Senanayak said.
Figures from the Ministry of Commerce show that bilateral trade amounted to $4 million in 2018, a one million drop compared to 2017.
Kith Meng, president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, called for the creation of a direct flight between the two countries to increase the flow of business and leisure travellers between the two nations.
Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak said the forum will lead to greater cooperation on trade.
“While trade between the two countries is still small, I believe that the business forum today gives us a good platform from which to see how far we have gone in recent years and address problems. [The forum] will allow us to set common goals and create a plan to boost trade,” Mr Sorasak said in a press release.
Cambodia and Sri Lanka established diplomatic relations in 1952 but they were discontinued during Cambodia’s civil war. Diplomatic ties were restored in 1996.