Gov’t Wants Talks With Russia On Joining WTO Membership

Cambodia has requested bilateral talks with Russia over Moscow’s pending accession to the World Trade Organization, CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Thursday.

He said that Cambodia had no ob­­jections to Russia joining the WTO and would not use the talks to try and block Russia’s membership in the trade group.

“Russia is our old friend,” Cheam Yeap said.

Russia, which began the process of accession in 1993, is the only major world economy not in the WTO. Cambodia joined the WTO in 2004. Any WTO member can request a bilateral trade deal with an applicant.

Last month, a delegation of Cambodian officials traveled to Moscow to discuss debt relief, oil exploration and improved transport links between the two nations.

“We want Russia to drop our debt just like the [International Monetary Fund],” added Cheam Yeap, who was part of the January delegation.

He also said that Russia had expressed interest in exploring for oil in Cambodia and said he hoped to resume direct flights between the two countries to boost tourism.

An official from the Russian Embassy in Phnom Penh who declined to be named said Thursday that negotiations on debt relief for Cambodia were ongoing.

“We cannot reveal anything about that, including the amount of the debt,” he said.

Cheam Yeap said Ouch Borith, a se­cretary of state in the Ministry of For­eign Affairs, was in Russia this week to continue talks, but did not know when formal negotiations re­gard­ing WTO accession would be­gin.

“We hope we will have a fruitful result from the talks,” he said.

Russia, which is not one of Cambodia’s top trading partners, has already completed bilateral negotiations with at least 29 WTO members, who together account for most of Russia’s imports, according to the WTO.

Long Visalo, a secretary of state in the Foreign Ministry, said he was too busy to speak with a reporter.

(Additional reporting by John Maloy.)




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