Khmer Times - 13 September 2019
Cambodia, EAEU to negotiate FTA
By Chhut Bunthoeun
Cambodian officials will next month embark on a visit to Russia to discuss a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union, a bloc of countries in central and northern Asia and Eastern Europe with a combined GDP of $5 trillion.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, a Cambodian delegation is scheduled to visit Russia in October to discuss trade and investment cooperation. The FTA with EAEU will be an important point in the agenda, the ministry said.
The announcement was made on Wednesday, shortly after the conclusion of the Asean Economic Ministers and Related Meetings, held in Bangkok, Thailand.
At the summit, which ran from Sept 5-11, Asean ministers discussed a programme of cooperation between the Southeast Asia and the Central Asia-Eastern Europe blocs.
EAEU is an international organisation for regional economic cooperation composed of five member states: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. Together, these countries are home to 183 million people and represent a combined GDP of about $5 trillion.
The Cambodian government believes the EAEU offers great opportunities in terms of trade expansion and is seeking greater cooperation with the bloc, including entering an FTA.
In March, the Ministry of Commerce hosted a workshop to spread information about Cambodia’s preferential trade status in EAEU.
Due to the Kingdom’s Least Development Country (LDC) classification, 46 Cambodian products can enter EAEU’s market duty-free during the next three years.
In 2016, Cambodia and EAEU signed an MoU to enhance cooperation in trade.
Among ASEAN countries, only Vietnam has reached an FTA with EAEU. Singapore will likely be next, with FTA negotiations having already concluded, according to RT, a Russian international television network.
The trade agreement between Singapore and EAEU is expected to be signed on Oct 1, RT said.
According to the Eurasian Economic Commission, trade between EAEU and Vietnam rose by 13 percent a year after the FTA entered into force, reaching $6.7 billion. EAEU exports to the Southeast Asian nation rose by 20 percent to $2.7 billion, while imports increased by 9 percent to $4 billion.