October 20, 2023
PHNOM PENH – Prime Minister Hun Manet departed from China on October 19 for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he is scheduled to attend the October 20 ASEAN-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit.
Manet was in the Chinese capital Beijing for the just-concluded 3rd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, where he signed several significant development agreements.
Accompanied by foreign minister Sok Chenda Sophea, along with several other senior ministers and business leaders from the private sector, Manet will engage in bilateral meetings with several foreign dignitaries in the Saudi capital, fostering bilateral cooperation between Cambodia and the GCC member states, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
“This Summit is a vital platform for ASEAN and GCC leaders to explore ways to enhance mutually beneficial spheres of cooperation, including in trade and investment, smart cities, energy, counter-terrorism, and tourism,” it said.
The forum is expected to adopt two outcomes – a joint summit statement and the ASEAN-GCC Framework of Cooperation (2024-2028).
Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said Manet’s participation in the summit demonstrates the active participation of the new government in international politics.
He explained that Cambodia’s role in major international affairs like the summit raises the Kingdom’s profile on the global stage.
“This was what we wanted – for Cambodia to have more of a role in regional and international affairs that are getting heated. The more roles we adopt, the more well-known we will become,” he told The Post on October 19.
“Our country once suffered the horrors of war and in turn received the support of the international community. Now that we enjoy peace, we should shore up international affairs,” he added.
Peou suggested that participation in all international affairs, whether the summit in Riyadh, or other major forums, are beneficial for the nation, whether in terms of international relations, the economy or trade.
“Generally, we are able to meet with other leaders and diplomats – bilaterally and multilaterally – as well as high-profile business owners, on the sidelines of such major events. This is an excellent way to promote investment in Cambodia, and an example of how the Kingdom benefits from these meetings,” he added.
Hong Vannak, an economist at the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said the Riyadh summit is an opportunity for deepening trade relations between Cambodia and the world’s top oil exporter.
He added that from 2015-2021, trade volume of the two countries had increased steadily, with a 30% to 40% increase year-on-year. In 2021, the trade volume between Cambodia and Saudi Arabia reached about $26 million, compared to the $18 million logged in 2020.
“In my view, Saudi Arabia is a large potential market for us, so we should establish a good relationship. We should strengthen and expand new markets to encourage and boost our exports, especially of agricultural products and travel goods. To date, we have exported some of these products, including milled rice, to Saudi Arabia,” he added.