Phnom Penh, Sep 16 (IANS) India on Wednesday described Cambodia as a key element in its engagement with the ASEAN and said a special purpose vehicle (SPV) is being set up to attract Indian investments into the Southeast Asian country as well as neighbouring Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Vice President Hamid Ansari, who is on a visit to Cambodia and later to Laos, in his address at the Council of Ministers, said the CLMV countries of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam are of special interest to India among the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Noting that these countries include some of the fastest growing economies in the region, are primarily agrarian, and have enjoyed certain degree of macroeconomic stability in recent years, with vast potential for future development, he said that creates strong complementary interests between India and the countries on the basis of a tripod of Commerce, Culture and Connectivity.
These are sustained by more frequent political exchanges, he added.
Ansari said India-ASEAN ties are poised to scale new heights and his visit to Phnom Penh “underscores the importance India attaches to Cambodia as part of our increasing engagement with the region”.
Terming India-Cambodia economic relations much below potential, he added that India hopes to launch the SPV soon “and I am confident that in the near future more Indian companies will explore the investment opportunities here”.
He said agriculture and agro processing, mining, oil and gas and small and medium enterprises offers opportunities for trade and investment by Indian business houses and that India will endeavor to encourage its companies and businesses to explore the emerging opportunities in these areas.
“For this, we look forward to support not only from Government of Cambodia but businesses here.”
Ansari said another area of cooperation is in defence. “India is happy to have been involved in training efforts for the Cambodian defence forces. We will continue and enhance these training efforts,” he added.
On terrorism, he said the “spreading tide of extremism and terrorism is a threat we both face. Successfully dealing with such threats requires strong cooperation among like-minded partners. I am glad that we have taken some steps to institutionalize cooperation in this area. We will continue to pursue more regular exchanges between our security personnel”.
Ansari said that “as two of the fastest growing economies in the world, the potential of our joint efforts to enhance our bilateral trade and investment, our collaboration in science and technology, our co-operation in human resource development and, of course, our cultural exchanges, is boundless”.
“As India embarks on the new phase of its Act East Policy, and as Cambodia prepares for successfully integrating economically in to the ASEAN Community, we hope to work with our Cambodian partners to realize this potential,” he said.
Ansari earlier met Prime Minister Hun Sen for delegational level talks.