Message from His Excellency Ouk Sorphorn
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the Kingdom of Thailand on the occasion of the Commemoration of the 67th National Independence Day of Cambodia and the 70th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between the two Kingdoms
On 9th of November 1953, the Kingdom of Cambodia successfully proclaimed its independence from France, following a royal crusade spearheaded by our most revered King-Father, His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk. This historic event has since been known and celebrated as Cambodia’s National Independence Day. His Majesty is recognised as the Father of National Independence for his skillful manoeuvring and significant achievements. An independent Cambodia has triumphed and suffered. From the glorious days of Sangkum Reastr Niyum to the genocidal regime of the Khmer Rouge that claimed nearly three million lives, our nation has persevered.
By the end of the 1970s, Cambodia had rid itself of the Khmer Rouge, but the people were left to grapple with extreme hunger and civil war. The Paris Peace Agreement of 1991 helped to end internal conflicts and brought political leaders together for a democratic election (in 1993) with support from the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC). The elected government ratified a new constitution, restored the monarchy and established the Kingdom of Cambodia. His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk then became King for the second time. The win win policy brought about by Samdech Prime Minister Hun Sen in late 1998 ended three decades of war and armed conflict. The Kingdom enjoyed peace and reconciliation when the Khmer Rouge followers were integrated into the government
It has been 41 years since country awoke from a brutal regime of genocide. In four decades, Cambodia has overcome countless obstacles to improve its quality of life. Under the auspices of the late King-Father’s successor, His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneate Norodom Sihamoni, King of Cambodia, and the visionary leadership of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, the Kingdom has enjoyed peace, political stability and impressive growth based on the principles of liberal democracy and pluralism. The Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) continues to develop human capital and infrastructure such as roads, rail, ports, bridges, powerlines and other technologies to support the connectivity and integration of all sectors. Even as the global community is being tested during these trying times, Cambodia remains an example of growth and prosperity.
With stable annual growth at an average rate of 7% for nearly two decades, the Kingdom has undergone a significant transition, rising from the level of “Least Developed Country” (LDC) to that of a lower middle income nation. Cambodia aspires to attain upper middle income status by 2030 and high income status by 2050. Investor confidence is bolstered and strong, particularly in the sectors of construction and manufacturing. According to the 2020 Outlook released by the National Bank of Cambodia, our nation attracted more than US$3.588 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2019 – an increase of nearly 12% from US$3.212 billion in 2018. Of this, the financial sector received FDI worth US$2.385 billion, with the non-financial sector receiving US$1.203 billion.
Cambodia’s 2019 total import and export volumes were valued at US$36.7 billion. Figures show that the Kingdom exported US$14.53 billion worth of products and its imports amounted to US$22.19 billion – a year-on-year increase of 12.7% and 18.6%, respectively. These figures reflect the rationale behind Cambodia placing great emphasis on international trade and investments in the 4th Rectangular Strategy of the 6th mandate of the RGC. The Ministry of Commerce is playing a leading role in free trade negotiations at the ASEAN plus One, ASEAN plus Three, and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership levels. In addition, Cambodia actively engages with its trading partners to ratify tax agreements, to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers and to oppose protectionist policies.
Cambodia strives to build good relationships and to promote fruitful cooperation with other nations in the region and around the world. Cordial ties with neighbouring countries are especially important to ensure mutual economic benefits and to secure peace, security and stability. Cambodia shares a long physical boundary with Thailand, as well as having close cultural and traditional ties. For a very long time, the two nations have built and cherished strong fraternal bonds and have nurtured a deep mutual affection.
I am very pleased with the progress of fruitful cooperation between our two countries in trade, investment, agriculture, labour, tourism, education, transport and culture. On the economic front, I am pleased with the upward trend of our bilateral trade volume which has steadily increased from US$ 8.4 billion in 2018 to US$ 9.1 billion in 2019. Our mutual goal is to see the figure reach US$15 billion for 2020. In the first seven month of this year, crossborder trade is said to have reached US$4.5 billion – down 10% year-on-year. Of that, Cambodia’s exports to Thailand totaled US$839 million – down by 26%, while imports were US$3.7 billion – down by 8%. In terms of FDI, Thailand ranked in the top eleven countries that have expanded their investments in Cambodia from 1994 to the end of the first quarter of 2019, with an investment value of US$1.59 billion. China remained on top with investments of US$10.71 billion for that period, followed by The Republic of Korea with US$4.88 billion and the United Kingdom with US$3.88 billion.
I am pleased to note that Cambodia and Thailand continue to cooperate in infrastructure, health and education. Between 2005 and 2019, some 2,000 Cambodian students received full scholarships under a programme sponsored by Her Royal Highness Mahachakri Sirindhorn. Some of these students are working in the public and private sectors in Cambodia to further promote economic development and our mutual friendship. Cambodia is working with Thailand to boost agricultural productivity in line with the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy. Programmes include farm and soil management and the improvement of rice seed production. Both nations are working hard to achieve milestones related to Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs).
2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Thailand. To celebrate this historical and long-lasting connection between the two Kingdoms, we humbly express our heartfelt gratitude to the respected late Kings, His Majesty Norodom Sihanouk and His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej for their devotion to our amicable relations. His Majesty the King Norodom Sihamoni and His Majesty the King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua carry on this work, followed by esteemed Prime Ministers, Samdech Techo Hun Sen and H.E. Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha. Our friendship, our common aspirations and our commitment to growth in peace will most certainly see us through another 70 years. May we be an example to our brothers and sisters in the broader ASEAN community.
Cambodia and Thailand have reaffirmed their commitment to working closely to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic via bilateral projects. In a recent video conference, His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn and his Thai counterpart, His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister Don Pramudwinai discussed the current state of affairs. Both expressed satisfaction with the strong bilateral trade ties we share and the opening of new regional and international border checkpoints. Both noted the significant progress in other sectors such as security, education, tourism, energy and connectivity. They say they look forward to the 4th Joint Cabinet Retreat (JCR) and the 11th Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), to be convened once the pandemic has subsided.
On this auspicious and happy occasion, the 67th National Independence Day of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the 70th Anniversary of our diplomatic relations, I wish happiness, peace and prosperity to the people of Cambodia and to the people of Thailand and I extend my warmest greetings and best wishes to our expat friends from around the globe.
Health, strength, success.