Cambodia and Australia established their diplomatic ties in 1952. The bilateral relations allow Cambodia to receive benefits and improvements by engaging in bilateral, regional, and strategic issues.1 The two nations have worked closely in defense and security, people-to-people, and trade and investment.2 They have also cooperated in many regional and global fora, including East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum, and Asia-Europe Meeting.3
Development cooperation and aid in Cambodia
Australia’s aid program aims for greater prosperity in Cambodia and the reduction of poverty in the region. Australia expressed its commitment to supporting Cambodia’s development by implementing foreign, trade, and aid policies through Aid Investment Plan 2015-2018. The investments focused on three goals: (1) improving access to infrastructure, (2) increasing agricultural productivity, and (3) improving health and education.4
According to the 1st Senior Officials’ Talks between Cambodia and Australia on 16-17 September 2019, Australia will further support the development in Cambodia through Aid Investment Plan 2020-2024. The plan aimed to promote three key objectives, including sustainable and inclusive public services, resilient and inclusive economic growth, and efficient and transparent public policy-making process.5 Australia has completed a lot of development initiatives contributing to the country’s development6 by collaborating with the government, civil society groups, and development organizations in Cambodia.7
Refugees settlement in Cambodia
On 26 September 2014, His Excellency Sar Kheng, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Interior, and The Hon. Scott Morrison, Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, signed a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the settlement of refugees in Cambodia. Australia would offer settlement and support to refugees based on a voluntary basis and the Refugees Convention by bearing the arrangement's direct costs and providing capacity building.8 As part of the MOU, Australia planned to provide an additional $40 million in the next four years for development projects9 targeting agriculture, land mine clearance, and electoral reform activities.10
Response to COVID-19 in Cambodia
Australia has played a crucial role in helping Cambodia respond to the pandemic. Australia has supported Cambodia in transforming into a more resilient and inclusive middle-income nation by pivoting, expanding, and implementing existing initiatives and investing in new initiatives related to the response and recovery of Cambodia from the pandemic. In collaboration with many actors in Cambodia, such as the government, civil society, and the private sector, Australia has also addressed the pandemic's negative economic and social impacts to protect the citizens.11
Australian Ambassador to Cambodia, H.E. Pablo Kang, said that “Australia has been trying to respond to the Cambodian Government and Cambodian people’s needs of managing Covid from the health security, social stability and security, and economic recovery perspectives”.12
On 17 September 2022, Cambodia-Australia Partnership for Resilient Economic Development (CAP-RED) was launched by Senator The Hon Tim Ayres, Australian Assistant Minister for Trade and Assistant Minister for Manufacturing, and H.E. Vongsey Vissoth, Minister attached to the Prime Minister and Permanent Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. CAP-RED is a five-year partnership and new Australian development program worth AUD 87 million, focusing on three pillars: agriculture and agro-processing, trade and investment, and infrastructure services. It aims to respond to the economic recovery in Cambodia after COVID-19 by building on the two completed initiatives, including Cambodia-Australia Agricultural Value Chain (CAVAC) and Investing in Infrastructure (3i) programs.13
Related to Australian aid
- 1. Australian Government, “Cambodia country brief,” accessed on January 2023.
- 2. Taing Rinith, “Bringing Cambodia-Australia ties to a higher level, 70 years on,” Khmer Times, 04 March 2022, accessed on January 2023.
- 3. Australian Government, “Cambodia country brief,” accessed on January 2023.
- 4. Australian Government, “Aid investment plan Cambodia: 2015-2018,” accessed on January 2023.
- 5. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, “Press release on the outcomes of the first senior officials’ talks between Cambodia and Australia,” 24 September 2019, accessed on January 2023.
- 6. Australian Government, “Completed development initiatives in Cambodia,” accessed on January 2023.
- 7. Australian Government, “Aid investment plan Cambodia: 2015-2018,” accessed on January 2023.
- 8. ReliefWeb, "Refugee settlement arrangement, joint press statement," 26 September 2014, accessed on January 2023.
- 9. The Guardian, "Australia signs controversial refugee transfer deal with Cambodia," 26 September 2014, accessed on January 2023.
- 10. Australian Government, "Aid investment plan Cambodia: 2015-2018," accessed on January 2023.
- 11. Australian Government, "Cambodia COVID-19 development response plan," October 2020, accessed on January 2023.
- 12. Taing Rinith, "Bringing Cambodia-Australia ties to a higher level, 70 years on," Khmer Times, 04 March 2022, accessed on January 2023.
- 13. Australian Embassy Phnom Penh, "Cambodia – Australia partnership for resilient economic development," 17 September 2022, accessed on January 2023.