France and Cambodia have a special relationship due to their shared history, Francophonie and France’s role in furthering development in Cambodia following the 1991 Paris agreements. The Cambodian community in France also helps maintain these links.
France has expressed its concern following the dissolution of the main opposition party (the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP)) and the arrest of its leader, and has called on the Cambodian authorities to re-open a democratic process and to allow the opposition, the media and civil society to operate unhindered.
French companies are more firmly established in Cambodia than those of any other Western country and in 2016 Cambodia rose to the status of a middle-income economy under World Bank criteria. France’s economic presence is based both on investments from major companies (Vinci, Total, Accor, BRED, etc.) and many SMEs created by French businesspeople. Trade between France and Cambodia continued to grow in 2017 (up 8.6%) to reach €1 billion. French exports, which mainly comprised agrifood products and pharmaceuticals, totalled €102 million. French imports of €920 million were recorded, with the textile sector making up the largest share.
French cooperation is today present in the scientific and academic spheres (the main aims being to improve the quality of teaching, the value of qualifications and the professionalization of courses of study) and in French-language teaching (in 2010 there were about 400,000 French speakers in Cambodia, i.e. 2.7% of the population, and in 2018 almost 125,000 Cambodians were learning French), where our work focuses on developing the structure of French-language teaching through bilingual classes, French-speaking courses of study in higher education, teacher training, and diversified educational options, notably symbolized by the Lycée Français René-Descartes in Phnom Penh (which in 2017-2018 had over 1,100 students, 60% of whom were Cambodian) which is part of the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE). We also have close cooperation in the area of heritage, in particular by co-chairing the International Coordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor and helping to restore several temples.
The French Development Agency (AFD), which has been established in Cambodia since 1993, helps it to develop in two priority sectors: infrastructure and industry. Since 2012, the AFD has invested €300 million in Cambodia.
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Updated: June 2018