Aussie Minister Predicts Closer Trade Links

More than 30 businesses from the Oceania region this weekend displayed their products and services at the Hotel Inter-Contin­ental in an effort to enhance business ties between the region and Cambodia.

Business Expo 2000 was organized by the Australian Business Association of Cambodia, the oldest business association in Cam­bodia, established in 1995. Exhib­itors included Australia-based businesses as well as potential in­vestors from New Zealand, especially in communications, technology and business consultancy.

“We will increasingly see closer links develop between the As­ean Free Trade Area and the free trade arrangement between Aus­tra­­lia and New Zealand,” said vis­it­ing Australian Minister for For­eign Affairs Alexander Downer in a press statement.

He said more than half of Australia’s exports go to East Asia, and Cambodia’s im­proved investment climate will en­courage more investment from his country.

Stephen Woodall, president of the association, acknowledged that it would take some time for Cam­bodia’s business sector to re­gain confidence, but said the current climate for business and the econ­omy is promising.

“Cambodia is continuing to emerge from decades of turmoil,” Woodall stated. “The re­sults of the 1998 general elections and subsequent formation of a co­­alition government have created a calm and cautious optimism.”

Australia is Cambodia’s third- largest bilateral donor. Downer said Friday that Australia will grant $21 million over the next year, up 3 percent, to such areas as agriculture, the justice system and de-mining.

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