Malaysia, Cambodia band together against possible revocation of the EBA status

Poovenraj Kanagaraj

Both the Malaysian and Cambodian governments have signed agreements on tourism cooperation and the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion regarding taxes on income.

Both the Malaysian and Cambodian governments have signed agreements on tourism cooperation and the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion regarding taxes on income.

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The collaboration was welcomed by Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

Its minister, Darell Leiking, was optimistic about the benefits of the pact between the countries.

“Both the tourism sector and corporations in both countries would likely get what they want and this would attract more businesses to invest in Cambodia as well. We are also interested in increasing trade collaboration and reduce trade deficits,” he says.

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has also expressed his optimism that the agreements will further increase the two-way trade volume between nations. The first half of 2019 saw a total of more than $400 million trade volume between Malaysia and Cambodia.

Malaysia’s Ambassador to Cambodia Eldeen Husaini Mohd Hassim noted that the applications submitted were projects that included the construction of a hotel with 2,000 rooms worth $4 billion. To date, the Malaysian embassy in Cambodia had received 20 applications from companies in Malaysia to explore the market in Cambodia.

“There have been many Malaysian companies that are very much industrialised here, such as airports, poultry business and especially in the food and beverage sector,” Leiking says. He also highlighted the need for his ministry to continue providing its support and services to these businesses in the Kingdom.

“We would like to bring in products from Cambodia,” he adds, referring to the end products Cambodia is able to deliver.

The trade minister also hopes to have his ministry impart knowledge and expertise to Cambodian workers involved in sectors that are exporting goods to Malaysia.

“We invite Cambodians to come over. As we are employing both Malaysians and Cambodians, we would like to engage further and this would require the help of the Cambodian government,” he says.

When asked about the matter regarding the possible revocation of European Union’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preference, he hoped that the bloc would rethink the matter. He believes that if Cambodia is affected, there would be a negative effect on countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia.

“The Europeans would have to rethink because it’s easier for them to judge you from a height,” he says, pointing to the same situation Malaysia is facing in terms of the ban on palm oil.

Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said his country, the world’s second-largest producer of palm oil, is considering bringing a case to the International Court of Justice over the rising anti-palm oil initiatives in the European Union.

Leiking also pointed out that the ambassadors in the countries are puzzled by the announcements. He hopes for a better outcome in order to prevent further concern towards the Cambodian people.

“It’s a sad thing they have targeted Cambodia and I believe this matter will be raised during the next Asean meeting,” he says because he believes that countries in the region are very much aware of the challenges and are working towards improvements.

He hopes to address the challenges faced by countries in the region that are in a similar predicament. The agenda is being pushed without any further insight into the matter, he says, noting that that the issue of timber logging in Sabah has also been a point of contention with Europe.

“Each country is making strides in overcoming the challenges they face,” Leiking says.

In the meantime, he hopes for further collaborations in the future between both nations and with other Asean states.

“I strongly believe that the region will be the gateway to the new world,” he adds.

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