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Indonesia keen on expanding trade ties with Cambodia

Indonesian Ambassador to Cambodia Santo Darmosumarto giving lecture at the Pannasastra University on Tuesday. KT/Heng Chivoan

Indonesia is keen on expanding trade cooperation with Cambodia to agricultural products other than rice. Rice has already helped Indonesia to become the number six trading partner for Cambodia. Digital and green energy are the two new areas in which Indonesia is keen to cooperate with Cambodia, said Indonesian Ambassador to Cambodia Santo Darmosumarto at a public lecture at the Pannasastra University on Tuesday.

Santo was a special guest at the university for the session titled, ‘Transforming historical ties between Indonesia and Cambodia into concrete cooperation’.

Santo spoke of the repercussions of rivalries among the global powers that invariably affect Southeast Asian nations like Cambodia and Indonesia. “The US and China are two major powers that influence the region,” he said.

Even a small country like Japan is capable of exerting global influence that affects the region. European countries are always interested in this part of the world, he explained.

He cited Singapore as an example of how a country which is very small in size can be a powerful entity in the world. “Cambodia can easily become a major power in the region because of its location,” he said.

Addressing queries from students on scholarships to Indonesia, he clarified that it is very difficult for him to arrange internships in the Indonesian Embassy in Phnom Penh which is a recurring request from students. “I wouldn’t want you just making coffee at the embassy now, would I?” he joked.

Elaborating on the challenge of familiarity between the businessmen of the two sides, Santo recommended enhancing interactions. “Become more familiar, have more conversations and have more deliberations on what areas can be developed,” he said.

The challenge Santo identified for trade was the problem of logistics. “A lot of people are saying that trading with Cambodia remains expensive because of the costs of shipping products. But I think with more volumes coming to Cambodia or going to Indonesia, we will see the prices for logistics lowering. That’s my hope that Indonesian products will become more competitive here price-wise in comparison to products from neighbouring countries,” Santo said.

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