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Bangladesh eyes Cambodia trade

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The garment industry in Bangladesh is as big as Cambodia’s, but workers are paid less. Reuters

Bangladesh is keen to establish a joint trade chamber with Cambodia in hopes of improving trade and investment activities, as Bangladesh eyes the kingdom as the place to connect with Asean.
Each country’s chamber of commerce will play a main role in sharing potential sectors with each other and push for business matching, said Bangladeshi Ambassador to Cambodia Saida Muna Tasneem.
“We want our chambers to form a joint chamber. That is very helpful because the chambers know about business needed between the two countries,” Ms. Tasneem said, in the first-ever Bangladesh Trade and Investment Conference held in Phnom Penh on Tuesday.
There is a huge information gap between Bangladesh and Cambodia because the two countries do not have resident embassies, Ms. Tasneem said. The information gap is about what Cambodia exports to Bangladesh and vice versa.
“We are LDCs [least developed countries] but we have comparative advantages. We produce products that Cambodia doesn’t have and Cambodia produces products that we don’t manufacture, so we can easily increase our exports,” the Bangladeshi diplomat said.
The prime ministers of both countries agreed to form a joint trade committee that was supposed to be co-chaired by the two commerce ministers, but it has never met, Ms. Tasneem said. The committee will hold a meeting in June when they are more informed about each country’s respective trade activities.
According to figures from the Bangladeshi embassy, total trade between the two countries was valued at $6 million in 2015.
Cambodian secretary of state at the Commerce Ministry Chhoun Dara said Bangladesh would push to expand Cambodia’s export markets.
“We don’t only focus on the big countries in the EU or America, but we also focus on the small countries in Asia like Bangladesh,” Mr. Dara said. “Bangladesh also wants to establish a market in Cambodia.”
More talks are needed to increase trade volume, he added.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice president Lim Heng said the CCC is ready to work with the Bangladeshi side to improve trade and investment and said Cambodia should learn from Bangladesh on the garment sector.
“In Bangladesh, labor force wages are cheaper than Cambodia, but labor force skills are higher than Cambodia, so Cambodia should learn to improve this from the point of view of Bangladesh,” Mr. Heng said.
Cambodia’s exports to Bangladesh include cotton, edible oil, fertilizer, clinker, staple fibers and yarn.

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