Cambodia has asked Myanmar to consider importing Kampot pepper, which is internationally recognised for its quality.
The request was made by Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn yesterday when Thit Linn Ohn, Myanmar’s newly-appointed ambassador to Cambodia, paid him a courtesy call at his office in the ministry.
Tuot Panha, a ministry undersecretary of state, yesterday briefed the press on the meeting, saying that Mr Sokhonn had expressed his hope that diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Myanmar will be enhanced.
She said he also told Mr Thit that Cambodia hopes Myanmar will import more Cambodian agriculture products, especially Kampot pepper, and increase bilateral trade between the two countries.
In response, Mr Thit thanked Mr Sokhonn for his efforts to push for bilateral trade in all sectors and strengthen the good cooperation and relationship enjoyed by both countries.
“Myanmar’s ambassador agreed to push for increased imports of the Kingdom’s agriculture products by his country,” Ms Panha noted.
She said that bilateral trade volume between both countries increased to $10 million in 2018, up from $4 million in 2017.
“Even though there was an increase, it still remains small compared with Myanmar’s bilateral trade with other Asean countries,” Ms Panha noted. “So His Excellency [Prak Sokohn] asked the Ambassador to push for more economic cooperation.”
Nguon Lay, Kampot Pepper Promotion Association president, yesterday said that he welcomed the government efforts to seek more markets in Asean countries.
“Yes, we are happy that government is trying to find a market for Kampot pepper in Myanmar which will benefit farmers,” he said, noting that some farmers had stopped planting pepper because they found it hard to find buyers.
In 2015, Kampot pepper was awarded the Geographical Indication status in the European Union, guaranteeing a certain price for the commodity in international markets.
According to the association, 50 percent of Kampot pepper is exported to the EU and 30 percent is consumed internally. The rest is exported to the United States, Japan, and South Korea.
Ms Panha also said that in line with a memorandum of understanding on political consultation signed between both countries’ foreign ministries in 2017, Mr Sokhoon has advised the General Department of Asia-Pacific to work with the Myanmar embassy to prepare to hold a meeting between Cambodian and Myanmar officials at the end of the year or early next year.
Mr Sokhonn also urged Mr Thit to help jointly organise an event to mark the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Cambodia and Myanmar next year.
Ms Panha noted that during the meeting Mr Thit thanked Cambodia for supporting Myanmar’s efforts to resolve the Rohingya refugee issue in Rakhine state.
In September, Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed support for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh during a meeting with Mr Thit at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.
During the meeting, Mr Hun Sen told the ambassador that Cambodia had its own experience in the repatriation of about 300,000 Cambodian refugees from Thailand, after achieving peace following a turbulent civil war that drove thousands to leave the Kingdom in 1990s.