India is considering establishing a cashew nut processing factory in Cambodia to curb exports to India from third countries, according to officials at the Indian embassy.
Dinesh Patniak, the ambassador to Cambodia, said Cambodia produced a lot of cashew nuts that were sent to Vietnam for processing, then exported to India.
"We thought about why the nuts have been exported by Vietnam to India. Why don't we come to Cambodia and set up a processing factory here?
"So we've already sent our delegates to check the possibility of conducting a study to find out where most of the cashew nut trees are planted and where we can establish the plant."
Patniak did not say who would conduct the study, nor which companies were interested in establishing the processing plant.
The Indian Chamber of Commerce opened an office in Phnom Penh last week to spur economic relations between the two nations, as India seeks investment opportunities in the Kingdom, especially in the agricultural sector.
"We will work on the food- processing and agricultural sector," Patniak said.
Secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce Pan Sorasak said recently trade between Cambodia and India had improved significantly since the establishment of an Indian chamber of commerce.
"We hope that we will work directly with India in the future - probably on the processing of cashew nuts and other agricultural products that normally depend on a third country," Sorasak said.
He said that during the ASEAN economic ministers' meeting in Siem Reap last week, India's and Cambodia's commerce ministers had discussed how to enhance trade relations between their nations. The establishment of a cashew nut processing plant was one such suggestion. "We hope that with the support from both ministers, we can achieve this goal shortly," Sorasak said.
Cambodia mainly imported foodstuffs and medicine from India and exported raw materials to India, he said.
According to the commerce department of Kampot, the province is one potential place where a processing plant could be established, because of the large number of cashew-nut trees to be found there.
The province has planted more than 24,000 hectares of cashew nut trees, from which it harvests about 17,200 tonnes of nuts a year.
Srie Hongly, a cashew-nut trader in Kampong Cham province, said yesterday she normally bought from farmers to fill export orders for thousands of tonnes of cashew nuts to Vietnam each year.
She said, however, she was not sure whether a local processing plant would buck the trend of selling to Vietnam because it was a big market for Cambodia's products.