Growing together: Cambodia and Australia pledge to boost ties across the board (VIDEO)

Growing together: Cambodia and Australia pledge to boost ties across the board (VIDEO)

MELBOURNE, Australia: Cambodia and Australia have pledged to expand their bilateral relations as the Prime Ministers of both countries met in Melbourne where they emphasised the importance of enhancing cooperation in trade, economy, education, employment and defence.

The commitment was made during a bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Hun Manet and his Australian counterpart, Anthony Albanese, on the sidelines of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, commemorating 50 years since Australia became ASEAN’s first Dialogue Partner.

This marks the second occasion that Australia has hosted leaders of ASEAN Member States, and this year they are joined by the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, Xanana Gusmão, who is participating as an observer.

Australia and Cambodia share longstanding bilateral and regional partnerships, commemorating 70 years of diplomatic relations in 2022.

The two nations have history of collaboration in various sectors such as health, agriculture, infrastructure, and education, as well as the robust people-to-people connections.

Notably, Australia’s substantial involvement in the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) underscored its commitment to supporting Cambodia’s development and stability.

According to Mr Hun Manet’s Cabinet, during the meeting, the Prime Ministers warmly welcomed each other.

Prime Minister Hun Manet (2-R) and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese (3-L) discuss issues during their bilateral meeting in Melbourne yesterday. DFAT

It noted that Albanese recalled the longstanding relationship between Cambodia and Australia, which spans over seven decades, predating Cambodia’s independence.

It said this highlights the positive relationship between the two countries, with mutual benefits accruing to their respective populations.

Albanese also expressed support and satisfaction with the discussions aimed at further strengthening and expanding cooperation between Cambodia and Australia.

Additionally, he praised Cambodia, acknowledging its resilience and strength as a nation. Despite the challenges faced during the genocidal regime, Cambodia has persevered and continued to progress forward.

In response, Mr Hun Manet expressed gratitude to Albanese and informed him of Cambodia’s appreciation for the support provided by the Australian people and government during the peace process in the 1990s.

He emphasised that Cambodia’s socio-economic development would not have been possible without the support, attention and assistance received from various sectors, including agriculture, health, demining, security, among others.employment and defence.

The trade relationship between Australia and Cambodia is modest but experiencing rapid growth. In 2022, two-way trade in goods and services amounted to approximately $1.1 billion.

Key imports from Cambodia to Australia include gold, clothing, recreational travel items, footwear, and travel goods and bags.

On the other hand, Australia’s main exports to Cambodia consist of education-related travel, cereal preparations, recreational travel items, coal and beef. Notably, the five-year trend in growth for Australia’s merchandise trade with Cambodia showed a 29% increase for imports and 20% increase for exports in 2022.

In 2022, over 2,800 Cambodian students pursued their studies in Australia. Since 1994, more than 27,000 Cambodians have enrolled to study in Australia, spanning across various educational levels including universities, primary schools and high schools.

Australia and Cambodia are both parties to the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.

These agreements aim to facilitate trade and investment cooperation among the member countries, fostering economic growth and prosperity in the region.

According to the statement, during the meeting Mr Hun Manet highlighted the successful Cambodia-Australia Business Forum, which attracted 350 investors and companies and aimed to promote business between the two countries.

Mr Hun Manet also welcomed the signing of an agreement on air transport services, which is expected to boost tourism between Cambodia and Australia.

Additionally, he extended an invitation to Albanese to pay an official visit to Cambodia at a suitable time in the future.

Albanese welcomed these proposals for cooperation and expressed his pleasure in accepting the invitation to visit Cambodia officially in the near future, the statement added.

Albanese wrote on his platform “X” after the meeting that it was “productive”.

“Australia will continue to work with Cambodia on ASEAN priorities. We both benefit from an open, stable and prosperous region,” he said.

Yesterday, Mr Hun Manet, along with other ASEAN leaders, attended an official reception hosted by Albanese. During the event, the ASEAN-Australia delegation and leaders had the opportunity to observe the Australian traditional aboriginal Smoking Ceremony involving cleansing properties to ward off “bad spirits”.

In the evening Mr Hun Manet and his wife Pich Chanmony attended a banquet reception hosted by Albanese in Melbourne.


Thong Mengdavid, a research supervisor at the Asian Vision Institute (AVI) and a lecturer at the Institute for International Studies and Public Policy (IISPP), said yesterday that for ASEAN, Australia holds a pivotal position as a significant developmental and regional power, alongside China and India.

“Over the past five decades, the two entities have leveraged enduring interpersonal connections, engaged in robust trade and economic collaborations, and fostered cooperation in security and legal domains,” he said.

“Australia, in particular, has played a crucial role in advancing and fortifying maritime security among regional states. It has actively advocated for the resolution of tensions through adherence to international law and served as a conduit for re-establishing robust channels of communication with China,” he added.

In the case of Cambodia, Mengdavid noted that Australia shares a profound commitment to upholding regional peace and stability, emphasising the importance of a rule-based international system.

“As an active member of ASEAN and a bilateral partner of Australia, Cambodia has experienced fruitful collaboration across various sectors, including military cooperation, legal and environmental affairs, and regional security engagement through multilateral platforms,” he explained.

According to Mengdavid, it is imperative for Cambodia to further strengthen and broaden its collaboration with Australia.

“This could be achieved through initiatives such as technical and vocational training, cultural and people exchanges, tourism and agriculture development, as well as fostering more dynamic economic and trade partnerships.

Additionally, addressing maritime disputes through established settlement mechanisms and reinforcing cooperation in legal affairs will contribute to the overall enhancement of bilateral relations between Cambodia and Australia,” he added.

In addition, Mr Hun Manet also held bilateral meetings with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo yesterday.

During the meeting, both leaders reminisced about their initial encounter at the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta, Indonesia.

They engaged in discussions covering various areas of cooperation including politics, trade and economy, tourism, energy security, and security. Emphasis was placed on enhancing high-level exchanges and people-to-people relations.

In the political realm, they recognised the significance of resuming political consultations and expressed intent to organise a second round of political consultations between Cambodia and Singapore soon.

For trade and economy, the leaders committed to fostering better relations by facilitating cooperation between relevant ministries and institutions to implement joint initiatives and specific actions. Defence and security cooperation was highlighted as crucial, particularly in combatting cybercrime and online gambling. khmertimeskh

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