Cambodia has invited resource-rich Azerbaijan to help develop Cambodia’s prospective oil and gas industry, Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol announced during a high-level visit to the Caucasian country on Tuesday, according to Azerbaijani media reports.
During the three-day visit, the two countries agreed to expand trade relations in a number of areas and establish a bilateral intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation.
“Cambodia is interested in cooperation with Azerbaijan in various spheres,” Mr. Chanthol was quoted as saying by Azerbaijani news website Trend.az. “Moreover, a draft agreement on the promotion and protection of mutual investments will be worked out soon.”
The two main areas of mutual interest are in the agriculture and energy sectors, he said.
“Our country produces about nine million tons of rice and we are ready to export it to Azerbaijan,” Mr. Chanthol is quoted as saying by AzerNews online.
“[We also] have oil and gas reserves, but they must be assessed, explored and developed and Azerbaijan is known for its experience and best practice in this area, which could be useful to us,” the commerce minister is quoted as saying.
In 2005, a consortium led by U.S. oil giant Chevron, after carrying out the first offshore exploration in the country, announced it had found potential oil reserves. However, it has since been unable to agree upon terms to begin exploiting it.
Azerbaijan is one of the oldest oil-producing countries in the world and its State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic regulates all aspects of the oil industry, with 80 percent of oil output produced by international companies, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The country extracted 43.1 million tons of oil and gas condensate in 2013, up from 42.98 million tons in 2012, according to the latest government figures.
Mr. Chanthol laid out a goal to achieve an overall trade turnover between the two countries worth $100 million by the end of 2015, which would be a marked increase from where it currently stands.
“I feel awkward to say that in 2012, exports from Cambodia to Azerbaijan made only $0.5 million and imports $7.7 million, while in 2013 our export to Azerbaijan was actually equal to zero and import reduced to $3.2 million,” Mr. Chanthol said, according to a report from the Azerbaijan Business Center.
The Cambodia delegation, led by Prime Minister Hun Sen and including senior members of government and leaders in business, traveled on to Belarus on Wednesday.
henderson@cambodiadaily.com
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