Two ambassadors met Friday to celebrate the growing diplomatic relationship between Cambodia and Australia and the achievements both nations have made in the fields of mutual trade, investment, tourism and aid.
Hor Nam Bora, Cambodian ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, met with Australian Ambassador Louise Hand in Phnom Penh to view the challenges and successes met by both diplomatic missions over the last five years.
Hand admitted at the meeting that cooperation on trade and the commercial sector has shown limited improvement in recent years. “That has been a little slow,” she said. “But I think we still have a lot of improvement—for example, several Australian companies are now operating businesses here.”
Hor Nam Bora said he has made great efforts to build a good relationship with the Australian government, and to woo private companies to invest in Cambodia.
Australian representatives also have been working closely with Cambodian delegations in Geneva to ensure Cambodia becomes the first Asean Less Developed Country to gain entry to the World Trade Organization, Hand said. “We’ve done a number of things to help, and we think it’s a terrific objective,” she said.
To ensure a long and fruitful relationship between the two nations, Hor Nam Bora proposed an Asean Plus Australia summit when Asean met in Phnom Penh in November. “I think Asean needs the presence of Australia,” Hor Nam Bora said. He called on Indonesia, as chair of the Asean Summit in Bali, Indonesia, in October, to put Asean Plus Australia on the agenda.
Australian aid was also discussed at length, both ambassadors said. Australia supports poverty reduction in Cambodia through a number of development programs, but due to the current world climate, other nations’ needs may soon overtake Cambodia’s.
“I have tried to make a long-term commitment to Cambodia, but there is always a lot of competition for aid money, especially now, as Iraq needs a lot,” Hand said.
AusAID is preparing for high- level consultations between Cambodia and Australia. Talks are set for May 14 and May 15 in Phnom Penh. Australia’s aid pledge to Cambodia for 2003 to 2006 will be decided at the meeting.