Phnom Penh, 7 April 2023 – EuroCham’s and ARISE Plus Cambodia’s six-day training on trade policy and negotiation ended on 5 April, wrapping up with a three-day session on trade in services.
Participants learned about Cambodia’s position on trading services, how policy and negotiations affect the e-commerce sector, and the importance of public-private dialogue mechanisms in service trade negotiation.
Lead Trainer Mr. Sven Callebaut said Cambodia’s growth over the past 20 years is due in large part to the services sector, and that the government has created a very open trading environment to facilitate the trade of services.
"Few people know that Cambodia is actually a net services exporter, with promising sectors such as dentistry, ICT and animations services. Yet, the breadth of services is still limited: increasing competitiveness in the services sector could further diversify exports", he said.
Of note, Cambodia exported $6.08 billion in services in 2019 and imported $3.27 billion in services. Top service exports were personal travel, business travel, and transportation, while the largest imports were transportation, personal travel, and insurance services.
Mr. Callebaut said the training programme tackled three subjects usually addressed separately: how trade policy is implemented and adapted, how Cambodia strategically approaches free trade agreements, and how a public-private dialogue can improve domestic and foreign trade.
“Having senior government negotiators sharing their experience enabled participants to realize how their inputs should be developed, structured and communicated for the Government to negotiate on behalf of businesses. Having private sector representatives analyzing Cambodia’s schedule of commitments under RCEP made them feel part of the broader trade policy implementation efforts”, he added.
Mr. Yuvaroath TAN, MoC Deputy Director General of the Directorate General of Trade Promotion, gave an overview of trade liberalization in Cambodia, specifically services liberalization under the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (WTO-GATS) and ASEAN.
Asian Trade Centre founder Dr. Deborah Elms presented on the framework for trade in services, noting that the method and processes for this trade relies on individual agreements and FTAs between countries. Services commitments also may have country-specific commitments or schedules to adhere to as well, with conditions changing depending on the mode of supply of the services.
Trade policy expert H.E. Dr. SOK Siphana gave a presentation on negotiation techniques used to broker services deals, mentioning that the private sector does have a role to play in offering their viewpoints before, during, and after negotiations.
Cambodia, being an LDC acceding country, is more open than countries in similar positions regarding services, he said, mentioning that the Kingdom has offered commitments in more than 61 sectors/sub-sectors, with countries in similar positions typically make commitments to four to five sectors.
In her closing remarks, Ms. Christina Novio Garcia, Program Manager of Trade, Private Sector and Energy of the European Union Delegation to Cambodia, pointed out the challenges faced by the private sector regarding the lack of trade-related information and the capacity to realize benefits from FTAs and trade preference schemes.
“Involvement of the private sector in trade policy and trade negotiations is crucial, as the private sector is in a better position to identify challenges of market entry, to define the support services business need, to advise on the cost of doing business, and on how to improve market conditions,” she said.
“Developing countries are increasingly implementing consultation mechanisms targeted to access this private sector input. Public-private dialogue mechanisms such as the Government-Private Sector Forum (G-PSF) in Cambodia, or the White Book (EuroCham). The private sector should also have a more active participation in the National Trade Facilitation Committee with the same purpose”, she added.
Around 60 participants in total from the private sector attended the training, all of whom received a certificate of completion.
Ms. Caroline Poppe, a consultant working in Cambodia and one of the training program’s participants, said: “It was interesting to have this overview of Cambodia trades, history of trade agreement negotiations with a Commerce and geopolitics overview. It was a good balance between theory, technical training and business examples. For me, it gives the private sector some tools and tips on how to communicate with and support the Government for future FTA negotiations.”
This unique training was delivered under the partnership of ARISE Plus Cambodia and EuroCham, with financial support from the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The overall objective is to boost the capacity of the private sector to engage effectively with the government and vice versa on issues related to trade policy, and towards more effective trade policy negotiations.
About EuroCham Cambodia
The European Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (EuroCham Cambodia) was created in 2011 by French, German and British business associations in Cambodia to act as the official chamber of the European business community in the Kingdom. Since then, it has grown to over 300 members and 5 national chapters, comprising 11 European countries. EuroCham Cambodia's core activities are to promote, support and represent its members and European business interests in dialogue with the Royal Government of Cambodia, with the aim of developing a more efficient and fertile business and investment environment for all.
EuroCham's key objectives are to
- Consult & advocate on key issues related to doing business in Cambodial,
- Promote investment to Cambodia,
- Work to improve access for European business to the Cambodian market, and vice-versa; and facilitate business between small and medium size companies of Cambodia and EU Member States,
- Provide services relating to economic, legal, technical, financial, market and other business issues in the EU and Cambodia and industry specific information to investors,
- Promote a strong European Union business identity vis-à-vis the Cambodian business community,
- Work closely with Cambodian stakeholders in supporting inclusive and sustainable growth of the Cambodian economy,
For more information, please contact:
About ARISE Plus Cambodia
The ARISE Plus Cambodia project, co-funded by the EU and BMZ and implemented by GIZ, is set to support greater connectivity and economic integration between Cambodia and the rest of ASEAN through implementing the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 and strengthening institutional capacity.
The project focuses on three main intervention areas, including (1) improving customs, trade facilitation and standards, (2) strengthening Institutional capacities and improving regulatory practices, and (3) enhancing private sector engagement, notably of SMEs, and preparedness for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
For more information: