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CCC signs trade deal

CAMBODIA’S trade and investment ties with the Philippines are poised to grow following the signing of a memorandum of understanding calling for increased commercial interaction.

Agreed between the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the memorandum calls for increased bilateral interaction by respective business communities rather than containing specific deals, signatories said.

“Creating awareness is the key objective,” CCC President Kith Meng said at a signing ceremony at Phnom Penh’s InterContinental Hotel, during the First Philippine Trade and Investment Mission to Cambodia.

“I think Philippine businesses will participate more in Cambodia, and Cambodians will look for opportunity in the Philippines.”

Fostering bilateral ties would increase the number of Philippine investors and traders in the Kingdom, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice president Roberto de Venecia said at the signing event.

“Bilateral trade and investment will increase over time,” he said Friday. “We are friends ... and Cambodia is an emerging market for business in Southeast Asia.”

Philippine-Cambodia Business Council agribusiness investment specialist Pablito Villegas said that Philippine companies were exploring the domestic market to secure rice exports, after stating to Philippine news outlet GMA News TV last week that the nation wished to buy up to 300,000 tonnes of Cambodian rice.

“The Philippines is presently 85 to 90 percent self-sufficient in rice production. It’s a major opportunity for Cambodia,” he said.

The Philippines’ President Benigno Aquino took office last month determined to guide the nation, a major importer, towards self-sufficiency in rice production, Villegas said.

However, he said that increasing international volatility of agricultural yields due to environmental factors would provide markets for Cambodian producers even if Philippine demand for rice imports eventually subsides.

“There will always be an opportunity for rice exporters,” he said.

Philippine investors could also bring modern rice-production technology and practices to the Kingdom, he said, benefiting the industry by boosting yields.

Trade between the two countries totalled US$18.3 million from January to November last year, according to the most recent statistics made available by the Philippine department of trade and industry.

In that time, Cambodia exported $9 million to the archipelago, and $9.3 million was shipped the other way. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JEREMY MULLINS

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