An across-the-board trade and investment deal signed with China’s Yunnan province on Friday was a jump-start to Chinese President Hu Jintao’s pledge a week earlier to double bilateral trade with the Kingdom to US$5 billion by 2017.
The package signing, which brought a delegation of 45 Chinese corporations into the room with about 250 Cambodian businesspeople, included investments in energy, cement, rice milling and agricultural technology, as well as proposed direct flights with China’s south-westernmost province.
Officials declined to put a price tag on the deal on Friday.
Increasing bilateral trade by $2.5 billion within five years would require the two countries to step up trade by 25 per cent a year, Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said in the statement.
“[The] visit proves that China shows the commitment on promoting trade and economic cooperation between the two countries after both governments agreed to spur bilateral trade to $5 billion by 2017,” he said during a speech at Friday’s signing ceremony.
Industry leaders last week told the Post that the boost to bilateral trade would mean an influx of Chinese products and investment in the one-sided relationship.
Cambodian conglomerate Royal Group of Companies and China’s Huaneng Lancang River Hydropower will build two hydropower dams in Stung Treng province, according to a statement from the Cambodian government.
The companies will hold a 30-year concession to operate the 400-megawatt dams, which were expected to be complete within five years, the statement said.
Royal Group CEO Kith Meng declined to comment on Friday.
Cambodia’s Soma Group and Yunnan Pan-Asia Agriculture Cooperation and Development signed a $100-million deal for milled rice exports, Council of Ministers spokesman Ek Tha said yesterday.
The companies would invest in a rice mill and 200,000 tonnes in rice exports were expected to start at the end of this year, he said.
“This agreement will help us expand our milled-rice market – especially in a market as big as China,” he said.
Soma signed a 20,000-tonne agreement with Yunnan Provincial Overseas Investment in June, the Post reported.
However no direct rice exports to China followed, and officials said a recent trial run failed to pass Chinese inspections.
Other agreements signed on Friday included what would be Cambodia’s biggest cement plant.
Cambodia CCR Co and China’s GCCP Co would build a 1.1 million-tonne per year plant, but the cost and timeframe for the project were not specified.
Yunnan Governor and delegation leader Li Jiheng also recommended direct flights between the province and Siem Reap.
Business with Yunnan would aid Cambodia in energy and agriculture development, given the province’s experience with hydropower projects and rice farming, he said.
“Such experience meets the growing need of the future of development of Cambodia. I expect that though the mutual efforts, Yunnan and Cambodia could come up with more achievements in sectors of mineral resource, hydropower, tobacco industry as well as key infrastructure construction,” he said.
“I would like to strengthen our economic and trade ties with the priority given to technological cooperation.”
To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at [email protected]