PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Malaysia and Cambodia signed two agreements on Monday on the employment of Cambodian migrant workers, as Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim made his first visit to Phnom Penh since becoming his country’s leader in November.
Anwar was accompanied by his ministers of foreign affairs, religious affairs and human resources, Malaysia’s foreign ministry said ahead of his one-day trip.
He held talks Monday morning with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and was to meet with King Norodom Sihamoni and top lawmakers later in the day.
The two governments signed agreements on the recruitment, employment and repatriation of Cambodian workers in Malaysia. Malaysia, one of Southeast Asia’s richer countries, employs low-wage workers from Cambodia, one of the region’s poorer nations.
Anwar's trip comes during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. He was also scheduled to meet with members of Cambodia’s small Islamic community, almost all of whom belong to the Cham ethnic minority. Islam is Malaysia’s official religion, while Cambodia’s population is predominantly Buddhist.
At a news conference after meeting with Anwar, Hun Sen praised relations between the countries and said they agreed to promote cooperation in trade, agriculture, tourism, energy, education and industry. He urged Malaysia to buy more rice from Cambodia.
Cambodia is Malaysia’s 58th largest trading partner and its eighth largest among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, according to Malaysia's foreign ministry.
Trade between Malaysia and Cambodia totaled $683.6 million in 2022, an increase of 20.8% from the previous year, it said.