Call for UK to Invest in Cambodia’s Agriculture Sector

Cambodia and UK officials have met to discuss tightening bilateral ties, with the Kingdom calling on the UK to invest in its agricultural sector
A worker carries a pack of rice at a store in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa
A worker carries a pack of rice at a store in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa

Cambodia has called on the UK to consider investing in the processing of agricultural products after noting it is an important market for Cambodia's agricultural products and manufacturing.

On January 25, Minister of Commerce, Pan Sorasak met British ambassador to Cambodia, Dominic Williams, to discuss increasing bilateral relations between the two countries.

According to the Ministry of Commerce’s official Facebook page, the UK government provides financial support and technical assistance to Cambodia, such as trade, health, education, financial management, and infrastructure development.

The UK has also implemented preferential taxes to some developed countries, including Cambodia, which has contributed to supporting Cambodian businesses and investors, boosting exports, increasing employment opportunities and developing the country. It has especially contributed to Cambodia’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

Now Cambodia is requesting that the UK considers investing in the processing of agricultural products, food and the agro-industry to further boost investment and bilateral trade. During the meeting, the post said that the two countries expressed their willingness to sign a memorandum of understanding on establishing joint trade and investment forum.

Potential exports from Cambodia to the UK include clothing, footwear, bicycles and agricultural products. Potential imports from the UK to Cambodia include machinery, pharmaceuticals and beverages.

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and the UK hit about $1 billion in 2022, an increase of about 24 percent compared to 2021, which reached $786 million.

Hong Vannak, an economic researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the UK has promised to buy or accept products made in Cambodia and establish a free market agreement with each other. The UK market is also an important market and former member of the EU with great potential.

“If the UK agrees, we will have more new markets and Cambodia may have the opportunity to export agricultural and industrial products, which are produced in the Cambodian market to the United Kingdom,” Vannak said.

“Previously, the UK promised to provide a generalized system of preferences (GSP) to Cambodia [this removes import duties from products entering the country]. The UK may have implemented a preferential new tax to Cambodia a few years ago, but we do not see any signs yet,” he added.

If the UK agrees to buy products from Cambodia, especially clothing and shoes, bags, it can also contribute to helping the garment sector in Cambodia. However, due to the economic crisis in the UK, issues in Europe and the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war, he is unsure of the outcome of the talks between the two countries.

“If the UK agrees to Cambodia's request, British investors will come to Cambodia. Only the British themselves know what to produce and what needs to be brought from Cambodia to their country. If that promise comes true and both parties agree to participate in the development of the Cambodian economy from 2023.”