ASEAN Beat

Can Malaysia and Cambodia Breathe New Life Into Economic Ties?

New MoU could pave way for double-digit growth in trade.

Prashanth Parameswaran
Can Malaysia and Cambodia Breathe New Life Into Economic Ties?
Credit: Flickr/Adam

Last week, Cambodia and Malaysia took a step in boosting bilateral trade and investment with the inking of a new cooperation agreement at a business forum in Phnom Penh.

The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) officially signed a memorandum of understanding with the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce at the Malaysia-Cambodia Business Seminar in Phnom Penh. The event was attended by several officials including Cambodian Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak and Malaysian Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed.

In a statement, the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry said that the MoU would boost collaboration between companies of the two nations.

“The MoU is expected to provide the platform for the two organizations to work closely towards promoting greater interactions among the Malaysian and Cambodian companies,” the statement said.

According to Malaysian government figures, Malaysia’s total trade with Cambodia in 2015 is still quite small, amounting to $385.8 million. Malaysia recorded $234.5 million in exports and $151.3 million in imports with Cambodia. On the investment side, Malaysia is the fifth biggest investor in Cambodia, with over 150 Malaysian companies operating or having business interests in the country.

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In an interview with Khmer Times, MATRADE CEO Dzulkifli Mahmud was bullish on the future prospects for Malaysia-Cambodia economic ties. By boosting business exchanges between both sides, organizing seminars and meetings to share more information, and using tools such as e-commerce, Dzulkifli said that there was much more room to develop and explore new areas of cooperation.

Pressed on what sectors Malaysian companies were looking at, he said they included construction, information communications and technology (ICT), healthcare and some manufacturing. While he admitted that the trade volume was small, he said he expected it to increase by 10 percent every year.

“Yes, it is small. But there is more room to develop and explore new areas to increase this trade. Don’t worry about the current numbers in the trade figures. We are looking at things in the long term,” he said.