State Visit of the Korean President, H.E Lee Myunng-bak

Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ) on October 14, 2009 organized a round table discussion on State Visit of the Korean President, H.E Lee Myunng-bak, and the Cooperation between Cambodia and Republic of Korea in which the Korean ambassador Lee Kyung Soo was the guest speaker. The round-table discussion was held just one week before the 22-23 October state visit by the Korean president Lee Myung-bak to Cambodia.

Speaking in his opening remarks, Mr. Pen Samitthy, CCJ President, said the discussion aimed at providing opportunity to the public through the media to know the main purpose of President Lee’s visit and the bilateral cooperation between the two nations.

During about two-hour session, ambassador Lee Kyung Soo briefed the background of the 12-year diplomatic relations between Cambodia and the Republic of Korea.

According to him, South Korea’s investment in Cambodia in 2008 was worth about US$1,238 millions but for the first six months of 2009, it decreased by 58%, compared with the figure of the same period of last year. He said that the drop was due to the global financial crisis and that Korea’s investment in Cambodia focused on the rubber plantation, mines, energy, oil and gas, real estates, tourism, construction, and agro-industry.

For the bilateral trade between the two countries, Cambodia imported about US$309 million worth of products from South Korea in 2008 and Cambodia’s export to South Korea was about US$294 millions. Lee Kyung Soo said the two-way trade volume was worth about US$120 millions in 2009 and both sides will try to foster more trade volume.

Lee Kyung Soo also hinted that Hyundai Company is building a vehicle assembling factory in Koh Kong Province, near the Thai border. Though he did not give the details about the volume of investment, a press release from his Embassy in Phnom Penh said Camko Motor Company is building a Hyundai car assembly factory which covers land area of 165,000 square meters with two facilities for maintenance and dormitory. The press release which was distributed in the discussion said the factory can assemble 3,000 cars per year, including SUV, Van and other cars.

President Lee Myung-bak is scheduled to hold bilateral talk with Prime Minister Hun Sen and will witness the signing of two agreements by Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hor Namhong and his Korean counterpart Yu Myung-hwan, minister of foreign affairs and trade.

According to the statement of Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the two agreements are on extradition and framework arrangement concerning loans from the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) for 2009-2012 while five other documents are expected to be singed during the president’s visit: agreement on cooperation between the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce; agreement on co-production of broadcasting programs; MOU on cooperation for the field of mineral sector; MOU on cooperation for joint mineral exploration and MOU concerning the cooperation on investment in forest plantation and climate change.

Ambassador Lee Kyung-soo told the roundtable that Korea considered Cambodia as one of the main dialogue partners and one of the recipient countries of South Korean grants and loans in the form of ODA. Since Cambodia has tied diplomatic relation with South Korea in 1997, many forms of bilateral cooperation have been achieved including the investment, culture, economy and tourism, he said.

Ambassador Lee also hinted that there are about 8,400 Cambodians (2,900 married migrants, more than 5,000 workers and students and others) living in South Korea while 4,000 Koreans are in Cambodia. He said up to 2,801 Cambodian women got married to the Korean men and they are now living in Korea.

There are 23 direct flights Phnom Penh-Seoul-Phnom Penh per week.

In closing remarks, Pen Samitthy, CCJ President, said Korean has helped Cambodia a lot and he urged the Korean President through the ambassador to consider in helping Cambodian media industry.

Phnom Penh, 15 October, 2009
Club Of Cambodian Journalists