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Indonesia aspires for more balanced trade with Cambodia

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Indonesia touched $1.087 billion last year. Khmer Times


Indonesia is Cambodia’s sixth largest trading partner but aspires to become a principal player soon, says Indonesian ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia Santo Darmosumarto.


Talking to Khmer Times, Santo said, “At the end of last year our bilateral trade touched $1.087 billion which is a record for us.” However, he hoped to be able to further strengthen the trade cooperation with the Kingdom.


“I think there are a lot of Indonesian products coming into Cambodia and we are very pleased about that but at the same time we would like to see a more balanced trade because a balanced trade.”


He also said he was hoping that in the future, they will see more Cambodian products coming into Indonesia be it from agriculture or other sectors. He was also hopeful that the interactions would be more balanced and more comprehensive between the two countries on the issues of trade.


One of the reasons why the Asean was formed, was for the economic integration of the countries in the region. “That remains our vision and mission and we are striving towards that particular goal. Some countries may have difficulty with integrating with one another because we do have our own national perspectives vis a vis our economic development. I think as we become more comfortable with each other, we see the benefits of enhancing intra-Asean trade,” Santo said, adding, that he hopes to see more Asean integration happening and expressed great optimism about it.


Asked about global economic uncertainties, Santo spoke in favour of cooperation to overcome them together. “Global uncertainties are caused by issues that are beyond the region whether conflict or environmental conditions. I think each one of us has a role in overcoming these challenges on the environment,” he added.


Both Cambodia and Indonesia have their respective national policies addressing climate change, ensuring the strengthening of the green economy and increasing the use of renewable energy sources.


Santo said in his opinion they are doing their best towards overcoming the uncertainties being caused around the world in Gaza and Ukraine. “Both Cambodia and Indonesia as previous chairs of Asean, in our capacity as co-countries from the region, have tried to voice the need for there to be peace and stability. There needs to be a ceasefire in both these conflicts and a peace process that is sustainable and lasting,” he added.


He hoped that political uncertainties would lessen in that part of the world. “We would also ensure that whatever conditions and uncertainties that have impacted those areas would be overcome and for us to be able to return to more favourable and positive economic conditions here in Southeast Asia,” Santo said.


Regarding agricultural cooperation between the two neighbours, the Ambassador mentioned the first import of rice from Cambodia to Indonesia took place in September 2023, in spite of the MoU being signed back in 2012. “It took us nearly 12 years to actually implement it. I have met with Cambodian officials who have spoken about the potential for other forms of trade cooperation and other forms of agricultural cooperation. For example, investment in agriculture or the export of other agricultural products from Cambodia as well,” he said.


The future of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is positive, he said. “We have got important partners within the cooperation so it is a matter of ensuring that people take advantage of some of the benefits that come with the implementation of the RCEP. A lot of businesses may not be aware of the advantages of making use of the RCEP framework. A lot of them are probably using other types of trade or investment framework that we have agreed upon,” Santo added.


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