May 25, 2011

Agriculture exports to fuel China trade goal

[PHNOM PENH POST]

The Kingdom aimed to increase exports to China in a bid to push bilateral trade to US$2.5 billion in 2012, Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said.

The minister signed an agreement with the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, led by Chairman Wan Jifei, on increasing trade cooperation in Phnom Penh
yesterday.

Speaking at the ceremony, Cham Prasidh said Cambodia intended to increase its exports of agricultural products such as rice and rubber to the People’s Republic. “We can achieve this goal [of $2.5 billion in trade] if you allow us to export more products [to] China,” he said.

Officials said yesterday the two nations had traded total goods worth less than $2 billion in 2010.

Wan Jifei, who is also President of the China Chamber of International Commerce, said he urged Cambodia to increase agriculture exports to China, but added shipping via buyers in third countries often resulted in higher prices.

“To deal with the problem, we should encourage Chinese companies to contract directly with Cambodian companies for imports,” he said

He said he was impressed by Cambodia’s economic opportunities, but highlighted two main concerns – high electricity costs and a lack of infrastructure.

Cham Prasidh said the Kingdom will receive more power from hydroelectricity by 2012 or 2013, which will lower prices. Infrastructure was also improving, with planned completions of the Singapore-Kunmin rail link likely to boost Cambodia’s trade with China.

He also highlighted Cambodia’s cheap labour costs and duty free access into many markets worldwide, including the European Union.

The Chinese delegation had also met with Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier yesterday.

Eang Sophalleth, advisor to the Prime Minister, told reporters that China was the largest investor in Cambodia.

The Prime Minister had said China’s investments were in hydropower dams, mineral resource exploration, irrigation, and the garment industry, according to Eang Sophalleth.

“These investment projects are very vital for sustainable and long-term development of Cambodian economy,” Hun Sen had told the Chinese delegation at the meeting.

Council for the Development of Cambodia figures showed China was the largest investor in Cambodia, accounting for a cumulative US$8 billion by the end of 2010.

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