The leaders of Cambodia and Vietnam have urged closer economic cooperation in an effort to more than double trade between the two countries to nearly $2.5 billion annually by 2010, officials said.
Cambodia plans to take advantage of Vietnamese promises not to tax 40 Cambodian agricultural products to reduce the trade imbalance between the two countries, Kem Sithan, secretary of state at the Commerce Ministry, said Sunday.
“I completely believe that we will reach up to a $2-billion balance of trade in the next three years,” he said last week during a visit to Phnom Penh by a top-level Vietnamese delegation. The exact target trade figure for 2010 is $2.45 billion, he added.
Total trade between the two countries reached $950 million in 2006, an increase of $244 million from the previous year. But $780 million of the 2006 total represented imports from Vietnam, Kem Sithan said. Cambodian exports to Vietnam in 2006 stood at $170 million, an increase of $13 million on the previous year, he said.
Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet said at a trade forum in Phnom Penh on Wednesday that Cambodia and Vietnam should cooperate on developing their economic ties just as they cooperated to oust the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s.
“We have spilled blood…to fight for independence and peace,” Nguyen Minh Triet said. “So again, we are fighting together to boost economic development.”
Prime Minister Hun Sen told the forum that Cambodia still needs greater investment from Vietnam in infrastructure development, agriculture and tourism.
Nguyen Minh Triet responded by urging greater investment by his countrymen, but added that Vietnam would also try to make itself an attractive option for Cambodian investors. “If any Cambodian investors are interested in meeting with Vietnamese investors, we are all ready to meet to talk,” he said.
Kem Sithan said special economic zones located along the Vietnamese border should help even out the balance of trade. The current imbalance is to be expected given the large differences in land area and population between the two countries, he said.
(Additional reporting by Pin Sisovann.)