Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UK’s Raab in Kingdom to reinforce trade, ties

UK’s Raab in Kingdom to reinforce trade, ties

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Britain’s foreign minister Dominic Raab (left) met his Cambodian counterpart Prak Sokhonn on Wednesday. FOREIGN MINISTRY

UK’s Raab in Kingdom to reinforce trade, ties

Britain's foreign minister Dominic Raab met his Cambodian counterpart Prak Sokhonn on June 23 to forge deeper bilateral ties and discuss the UK’s bid for ASEAN Dialogue Partnership status as Cambodia is slated to chair the bloc next year.

“[I’m] here to boost trade, support Cambodia’s energy transition, and expand UK-ASEAN cooperation - and as a force for good in the Indo-Pacific,” Raab tweeted before the meeting.

Sokhonn confirmed that he met Raab in the morning to discuss the two countries’ common desires to further strengthen and expand bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields of mutual benefit.

“We discussed Cambodia’s chairing of ASEAN in 2022 as well as ways to further promote ASEAN-UK relations. We also agreed to continue working closely together in both a regional and international framework,” Sokhonn said after the meeting.

The UK embassy in Phnom Penh also said both sides were looking to deepen the UK-Cambodia strategic partnership on health security, position the UK as an “ASEAN Dialogue Partner in-waiting” and signal the UK’s Indo-Pacific tilt.

In a tweet after the meeting, Raab said: “Delighted to meet Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn to discuss our shared priorities such as trade, human rights and Myanmar.”

Raab also met Minister of Environment Say Samal to discuss environmental issues and climate change, during which he congratulated Cambodia on the country’s development, according to ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra.

The two ministers, Pheaktra said, also touched on topics such as transnational wildlife trafficking, consumption of renewable energy, Cambodia’s contribution to the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference – also known as COP26 – and biodiversity preservation.

He said Raab had asked Samal what the UK could do to help in the environment and nature sectors. Samal told Raab that the UK could help Cambodia with human resource development relating to environmental and natural protection, forging trade partnerships and with exporting products from Cambodia.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
UK foreign minister Dominic Raab (left) and environment minister Say Samal. Hean Rangsey

“In the environmental sector, the UK can help Cambodia by buying carbon credits through which the budget will be spent on forest and wildlife protection and community economic development through alternative occupations. This will create income for our people,” Pheaktra said.

In response, Raab said he would send a delegation of specialists to Cambodia to study and better understand the country’s needs in the environment and nature sectors, an idea that Samal warmly welcomed, according to Pheaktra.

The UK foreign minister also visited the Documentation Centre of Cambodia (DC-Cam) to learn how the Khmer Rouge documents have been preserved and how they contributed to the Khmer Rouge tribunal, known officially as the Extraordinary Chambers in Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

DC-Cam director Youk Chhang told The Post that he gave Raab a background briefing on Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot and those brought before the tribunal, as well as on the suffering of their victims. The centre also focuses now on the health conditions of survivors of the Khmer Rouge which consists of five million people.

Youk said DC-Cam had provided more than half a million documents, including the photocopies of the original Khmer Rouge documents, to the tribunal and was now working with the government to construct research centres and libraries in the provinces as requested by the ECCC.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
DC-Cam director Youk Chhang shows documents to Dominic Raab on June 23. DC-Cam

In anticipation of Cambodia taking the role of ASEAN Chair next year, the nation has already been visited by two high-profile foreign diplomats – Raab and US deputy secretary of state Wendy R Sherman, who visited on June 1.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said that as the chair Cambodia can set the agenda items for ASEAN summits and other bilateral and multilateral meetings, such as those related to the UK’s application for ASEAN Dialogue Partnership status.

Having dialogue partnership with ASEAN, he said, was to compete with other countries on trade and to curb China’s growing influence.

Phea saw Raab’s visit as peaceful and constructive compared to that of Sherman, who raised hot-button issues and controversial topics, including holding a meeting with former opposition leader Kem Sokha.

“His visit was to show friendship and for constructive purposes. He did not raise heated topics which would cause trouble for bilateral relations between the two countries.

“It looks like he came to listen to Cambodia and see where the UK could help Cambodia. There are a lot of positive takeaways from his visit,” Phea said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to

  • PM: Do not defile Tonle Sap swamp forest or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered police to arrest anyone – including government officials – involved with the deforestation of the flooded forests surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake because it is an area important to the spawning of many species of fish, among other reasons. Speaking in a