Cambodia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have thrashed out a deal after three rounds of negotiations over the Comprehensive Economic Partnership (CEPA) trade agreement.
On March 16, Pan Sorasak, Minister of Commerce, and Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade, jointly announced the end of official negotiations via a virtual meeting.
Pan Sorasak said the CEPA covers goods trade, customs procedures and trade facilitation, sanitation and phytosanitary, trade barriers, investment, digital services, intellectual property, cooperation of economic and technical operations, transparency, dispute resolution mechanisms, administration, and final provisions.
In addition, Cambodia's potential agricultural and industrial commodities will reach the market, he added.
Cambodia's agricultural goods include rice, vegetables, bananas, cashews, mangoes, corn, pepper, durian, rice cakes, and confectionery. Other products include bicycles, electrical components, electric automobiles, travel bags, shoes, and clothing.
Meanwhile, Cambodia's key service markets include professional and commercial services, construction and engineering services, environmental services, and so on.
He said that by recognizing the two countries' economic dynamics, Cambodia and the UAE will be able to reap maximum benefits under the framework.
Moreover, it will promote socio-economic development for the people of both nations by strengthening the chain, value of trade facilitation, promotion of bilateral investment, and the expansion of cooperation in potential areas that are new opportunities offered by ASEAN and the Middle East, he added.
Hong Vannak, an economic researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the agreement will broaden the market for Cambodian agricultural products. In addition, it will be a new level in Cambodian-UAE bilateral trade, particularly in terms of import and export between these two nations.
"It will boost market certainty in both nations,” he said. “So, Cambodia will have a specific market and commodities that will be ordered from Arab countries. What we are doing now is to strengthen the transparency of bilateral trade."
He added that having a particular partnership with the UAE will allow Cambodia to take its economy to the next level.
"In general, the Arab Emirates lack potential in agriculture and tourism. They usually have minerals and fuel. They don't have a lot of land for cultivation,” he said. “So, Cambodia has the opportunity to export agricultural commodities to the Arab Emirates market."
He said that this is a new and significant market for Cambodia, forcing the country to modernize its manufacturing chain to meet the needs of the UAE. Furthermore, it will expand work possibilities for Cambodians, draw tourists and investors to the Kingdom, and improve its economy.
After the announcement of the official conclusion of the negotiations, the two sides will next sign the agreement at a suitable date in the future.
On October 12, 2022, the two parties signed the terms of reference for the establishment of the Cambodia-UAE CEPA. The first round of negotiations were held from October 24 to 26 in Abu Dhabi, UEA. The second round of talks took place in Phnom Penh, from December 19 to 21, and the third round on February 20 to 22 in Dubai, UAE.