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Fair aims to firm up trade with Vietnam

A five-day trade fair for Vietnamese products kicked off on Koh Pich in Phnom Penh yesterday, coming on the heels of recent government figures that show declines in bilateral trade and investment between Cambodia and Vietnam.

Some 130 Vietnamese companies are participating in the fair, which runs through Monday. Products on display include garments and footwear, food, electronics, construction materials, agricultural seeds and fertiliser.

Chhuon Dara, secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, told reporters yesterday that both countries had committed to increasing the cross-border flow of goods and trade fairs were one of the most effective ways of promoting a country’s local products. While data show a decline in bilateral trade and investment between Cambodia and Vietnam this year, he remains optimistic that diplomatic and economic cooperation will bear fruit.

“There will be more growth of trade and investment,” Dara said. “We are joining the ASEAN economic community, the open market in the region, so everything will be great.”

He added that a new bilateral agreement in the making would eliminate import taxes on goods, and efforts are underway to resolve non-tariff trade barriers, such as sanitary and phytosanitary standards.

According to the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), Vietnamese investors shied away from the Cambodian market during the first half of the year, with the CDC failing to register even a single qualified investment project (QIP) from Vietnam during the period for the first time in its 22-year history.

The two countries also failed to meet their targeted bilateral trade goal of $5 billion per year by 2015. Total trade amounted to just $3.37 billion last year.

Data provided by the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh shows bilateral trade totalled $848.7 million during the first quarter of the year, down 11 percent compared with the same period in 2015.

Tran Don, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Defense, said yesterday that regional economic integration was creating more opportunities for bilateral trade and investment.

“As both countries are members of the Asean Economic Community, the flow of trade and investment between the two countries will increase in the future,” he said assuredly.

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