Malaysia and Cambodia have pledged to expand bilateral trade, which increased 24 percent year-on-year to $620 million, in a milestone meeting attended by prime ministers Anwar Ibrahim and Hun Sen.
During the event held at the Peace Palace, Hun Sen urged Malaysia to import more Cambodian goods, including agricultural produce such as rice and cashew, while he pledged to reciprocate by ensuring increased imports from Malaysia.
In response, Anwar acknowledged the success of Cambodia’s rice industry, which he said its growers should be proud of.
“Rice production isn’t easy, but Cambodia can increase its productivity. So, I would like to encourage Malaysian rice growers and companies to consider importing Cambodian rice and cashews,” Anwar said.
Anwar, who arrived in Cambodia for a one-day trip, was on his first official visit to the capital city on Hun Sen’s invitation since the former’s appointment as premier last November.
Both Anwar and Hun Sen’s friendship go back many decades, with the latter recalling a dinner hosted by Anwar in Kuala Lumpur in 1996 when he was Deputy Prime Minister.
Earlier, Anwar, 76, was granted a royal audience with King Norodom Sihamoni at the Royal Palace before attending a town hall meeting with the Malaysian diaspora in Cambodia, and a breaking fast session in the evening.
He also paid a courtesy call on Senate President Say Chhum and National Assembly President Heng Samrin.
Joint policing, undersea cable
Today’s event saw both parties engage in in-depth discussions on strengthening bilateral ties and cooperation with regards to the diverse communities in Cambodia and Malaysia.
Discussions also covered efforts to solidify cooperation between relevant institutions to fight against smuggling, human trafficking and money laundering, including plans to establish joint policing by way of an agreement.
Additionally, both leaders explored new ways to deepen their long-standing relationship in sectors, including politics, security, economy, culture and society while exchanging views on sub-regional, regional and international issues.
Malaysia was also requested to support the construction of an undersea power cable connecting Cambodia and Singapore, as it would pass through Malaysian waters on the east of Peninsular Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Malaysia and Cambodia have agreed to collaborate more on investments, trade, education, tourism, energy, connectivity and people-to-people relationships.
“I am optimistic that both nations would work together to resolve regional and global issues in order to strengthen solidarity, independence and centrality. ASEAN must maintain peace, stability and prosperity of the ASEAN community,” Hun Sen added.
In addition, both countries plan to work together to provide technical, digital, and educational training. “I hope it will happen by the end of this year. Malaysia would be organising this after many years,” Anwar said.
Halal business, workers’ rights
Several issues concerning the development of the halal industry were also discussed between both premiers.
Anwar explained that by jointly growing the halal business, Cambodia and Malaysia would be able to boost their exports to other countries, including Western nations.
Meanwhile, the event witnessed the signing of two agreements between Malaysia and Cambodia to ensure the protection of the rights of Cambodian workers in Malaysia.
Cambodian Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng and his Malaysian counterpart V. Sivakumar signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Recruitment, Employment, and Repatriation of Domestic Workers, and the Recruitment, Employment, and Repatriation of Workers on behalf of their governments.
Separately, Anwar praised Hun Sen, calling him a leader with extensive experience. He added he brought an end to the war and ensured Cambodia’s prosperity.
He said Hun Sen also has played a pivotal role in resolving complex issues such as the Myanmar coup, given how Cambodia has maintained its peace all these years.
According to Anwar, compared to Myanmar today, Cambodia stands as a great example of a country that was once plagued by civil war and has finally achieved complete peace.
He also looks forward to Hun Sen’s contribution to discussions in the upcoming ASEAN Summit and his sharing of views in the comprehensive framework to address Myanmar’s military administration.
“We must understand that this issue must not continue without a solution as well as the issues pertaining to the South China Sea, Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, Taiwan and China. Hun Sen shares the same view,” Anwar said.