Kingdom, Czech Republic aim to boost bilateral trade

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NA president Heng Samrin (right) and Czech Ambassador Martin Vavra on Monday. HENG SAMRIN VIA FACEBOOK

The Czech Republic has promised to encourage its small and medium-sized enterprises and private companies to invest in Cambodia and boost trade between the two countries, which in the past has been relatively insignificant in size.

The offer of assistance to increase trade was made when National Assembly (NA) president Heng Samrin met with new Czech ambassador to Cambodia Martin Vavra on November 29 at the NA to get acquainted and discuss matters of mutual interest to both nations.

Samrin requested the Czech Republic to continue promoting trade, investment and tourism to Cambodia after the Covid-19 pandemic eases.

“Cambodia and the Czech Republic have been linked together in cooperation for a long time and the two nations have always benefited from it,” he said.

Samrin pointed out that historically the Czechs have contributed significantly to Cambodia’s development ever since the era when they belonged to their former country of Czechoslovakia up to the present.

Vera then promised to work hard to encourage more Czech investors to invest in Cambodia.

“Czech companies are investing in Thailand and Vietnam, so I will study the situation and look for ways to boost trade cooperation between our two countries,” he said.

Vera said that in addition to investments, the Czech Republic has also provided aid to Cambodia in the health and education sectors.

“Recently, a lot of medical equipment was provided to the Takeo provincial hospital, and the Czech Republic continues to provide humanitarian assistance to Cambodia, especially scholarships for Cambodian students and government officials to study in the Czech Republic,” Vera said.

Samrin stated that King Norodom Sihamoni once studied in the Czech Republic’s high quality education system and spent a great deal of time there besides, so the country remains close to his heart.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said relations between the two countries are good but it has not yet reached the point of being a comprehensive strategic relationship.

“In terms of relations, they are good – but the level of trade and the political and diplomatic importance of the two countries to each other are minimal at this time,” he said.

Phea said that although the Czech Republic is a member of the EU and must operate within the EU framework to a large extent, they have in the past expressed support for Cambodia’s positions even when it put them at odds with the official EU position.

“It’s not because of the political situation or even the geographical location. There’s just not much either side needs from the other right now in trade. It’s like with Russia. Our relationship with Russia is good but we don’t transact with them much either,” he said.

Diplomatic relations between Cambodia and the Czech Republic date back to 1957 when the latter was still part of Czechoslovakia. According to the UN Comtrade database on international trade, bilateral trade between the two countries stood at just over $80 million in 2020.