Cambodia signs first bilateral trade agreement with China

Globia china SM Farm

Cambodia signed its first ever bilateral free trade agreement last week at a ceremony in the capital Phnom Penh.

The deal with China, however – which was negotiated after just three rounds of talks – is thought by observers to be more symbolic than substantial.

The negotiations that led to the trade deal began in January and were completed in July.

According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, the agreement is wide-ranging, including cooperation over investment, trade, tourism, transportation and agriculture.

Although details of the agreement are being treated as confidential, comments made previously by officials and political representatives have given indications of its contents.

A spokesman for Cambodia’s Council of Ministers said earlier this year that it was hoped the deal would boost exports to China by 25 per cent, while an official at Phnom Penh’s Commerce Ministry suggested some 340 commodities were included, 95 per cent of which would not incur export tariffs.

These, he said, included chillies, pineapples, vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, grain, seafood and canned products.

Among the sectors said not to be included in the understanding were Cambodian rice, rubber and sugar.

There is certainly room for Cambodian exports to China to increase as while trade between the two countries amounted to $9 billion last year, it was mostly one-way.

While Cambodia imported goods from China worth $8.3 billion (£6.3 billion), making up more than 37 per cent of its foreign trade, just $900 million (£690 million) went the other way.

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