Phnom Penh, December 13
In development of far reaching importance, Cambodia, one of the key members of the
ASEAN community has offered several measures, including a three years visa on arrival to India which Phnom Penh provides to China.
The lucrative offer was made by the Cambodian Commerce Minister Pan Sarasak today during a meeting with a team of Indian media delegation, which is currently on a tour to the region as part of the Indo-ASEAN Exchange Programme. The proposal to grant special privileges comes at time when India was pursuing an active “Act East Policy”, raising many eye-brows in Beijing.
“We want to provide Indian businessmen all the special offers for doing trade with us as we have been providing to their Chinese, Japanese and South Korean counterparts,” Pan said.
Cambodian proposals, in particular, were of key importance to India, as Phnom Penh is considered very close to China, which is contributing almost 70 per cent in the country’s development initiatives. The Indian delegation held a wide ranging discussions with the top leaders in the Hun Sen Government, apart from the meeting with the Commerce Ministers.
There was a wide spread feeling in the Cambodian establishment that the Indian side was not taking keen interest in investing in their country.
“India should regard ASEAN as one nation having 10 provinces”, the Commerce Minister said, adding that the region may prove to be treasure trove for New Delhi, The Cambodian leaders said that the trade between the two sides need to be given a big push. The bilateral trade between the sides, which stood at about 189 million dollars annually, have witnessed a meagre, but steady rise of 10 per cent in the past two years. The Cambodian government has been pushing New Delhi to start direct flight between the two countries, an idea which is not being seen as feasible by the Indian side. ”We are looking at the possibility of using Phnom Penh as a stopover to other destinations of the ASEAN, as major capital cities of the region are hardly one-and-a-half hour of flight from here,” sources in the Indian mission told UNI.
An MoU to facilitate this arrangement is being worked out, they indicated.
An informal session was also arranged for the Indian delegation with the local entrepreneurs to reflect their aspirations for enhancing the bilateral cooperation. The delegation was told that a small community of 1500 Indian nationals was contributing in various fields in Cambodia, most of whom are based in Phnom Penh. There is also a floating population of small traders, mostly from Uttar Pradesh, who deal in small time business like garments and mosquito nets, which are an instant hit here.
Phnom Penh, December 13