Vietnamese President Phuc two-day visit to Cambodia

Following the meeting of party general secretaries earlier in November 2021, Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc completed his two-day state-level visit(21-22) to Cambodia. Cambodia is going to be the chairman of ASEAN and therefore there is concerns with regard to the likely agenda in the forthcoming ASEAN meetings in the year 2022. President Phuc met Prime Minister Hun Sen and deliberated on the issues of mutual interest. Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos are looking for developing complementarities so as to get over the post pandemic phase and develop their economies for the betterment of their citizens. In terms of trade between Vietnam and Cambodia the trade has reached US $2.69 billion (in the last quarter of 2021) and there is a possibility of more than 100 per cent annual growth. In the first seven months (Jan-July 2021) it was $6.034 billion.

The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also scheduled the 9th Joint Commission between the two countries on December 19th to look into the joint action plan for developing better cooperation and coordination between the two economies. . During the 19th Joint Commission meeting between the two sides which focused on economic, scientific and technological, and cultural cooperation held on 19th December the two-sides expressed keen interest in celebrating the 55th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic relations. The 19th Joint Commission meeting explored the different facets of cooperation between the two countries for promoting traditional friendship and amity. Cambodia has been maintaining friendly relations with Vietnam for economics, defence security and political aspects. 

Vietnam and Cambodia are also looking for undertaking cooperation in terms of defence and security, border management, transport, connectivity, education and promoting culture sports and tourism between the two countries. The two sides signed seven agreements for support these sectors.  Vietnam and Cambodia have agreed to avoidance of double taxation agreement and bilateral investment protection agreement. Also, the two sides signed documents related to economic and trade cooperation. 

It is expected that the state visit of the president of Vietnam would help him developing synergies particularly in the context of the events that the President Phuc attended. This includes the ground breaking ceremony of the new administrative building of Cambodian National Assembly. During the visit the Vietnamese president exchanged notes related to vaccine diplomacy and developing network of health institutions between the two countries. Vietnamese president met King Norodom Sihomani and deliberated on regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Cambodia has been maintaining friendly relationship with both Vietnam and China at the same time while it is also trying to cultivate its better ties with the US. Vietnam is seen as an important player in the regional dynamics particularly in the context of South China Sea, and the evolving Mekong Cooperation to develop the Mekong River riparian countries and explore possibilities in terms of smart agriculture, new agriculture technologies, animal husbandry, and food processing industries. The visit enhanced the willingness of Cambodia and Vietnam to bring about further interactions with regard to raising public awareness on the pandemic, awareness between the two sides with regard to the importance of the two countries, and developing protocols for exchange of students and teachers between the two countries. 

Vietnam is also expected to share its experiences with Cambodia when it held the ASEAN chairmanship in the year 2020 and is going to explore the possibility of political change given the fact that general elections are to be held in Cambodia in the year 2023. Vietnam has whole heartedly supported Cambodia’s chairmanship of the organization in the wake of increasing competition between US and China in that region. 

ASEAN is also holding consultations with regard to the implementation of the regional comprehensive economic partnership and there are concerns with regard to implementing it in the context of managing competition, protecting small and medium enterprises and addressing concerns related to economic and technical chapters in the agreement. While Vietnam and Cambodia are emerging economies with much focus on small and medium enterprises it has become imperative for the two leaderships to focus on protecting those enterprises and look for foreign direct investment in new emerging areas such as technology, cyber, space, artificial intelligence and machine learning. Vietnam has been seeking Cambodia’s help with regard to trade in agricultural products and also exploring the possibility of resilient supply chains which has been much talked about by the quad countries and also many European countries lately. 

President Phuc would be the seventh Vietnamese president to visit Cambodia and it clearly shows the importance that Vietnam accords to develop friendly relations with its neighbours. The possibility of sharing of information related to maritime security, training and capability building is also foreseen during this visit. President Phuc has clearly remarked during his interactions with various leaders in Cambodia that Vietnam stands with the integrity and sovereignty of Cambodia and would work together to bring peace and prosperity in the region.  

Prof. Pankaj Jha
Prof. Pankaj Jha
Pankaj Jha is faculty with Jindal School of International Affairs, O P Jindal Global University, Sonepat. He can be reached at pankajstrategic[at]