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New legislation to facilitate trade with Vietnam, China

Six more Cambodian consular offices in China could spark new investment

TWO draft laws aimed at facilitating trade between Cambodia, China and Vietnam are to be passed by the National Assembly today, officials say.

Cheam Yeap, Cambodian People’s Party member of parliament and chairman of the National Assembly’s fifth committee, said Thursday that a consular treaty with China and a law on waterway transportation with Vietnam are due to be approved this morning.

The China deal will see six Cambodian consular offices opened in major cities across the People’s Republic, helping potential investors learn more about the Kingdom.

The lawmaker told the Post that approval of the draft law is vitally important for the two countries to boost bilateral trade.

“The general consulates, which will represent the Cambodian Embassy in Beijing and Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, would communicate information with Chinese investors who are interested in coming to Cambodia,” said Cheam Yeap.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong added that the new offices “will bring a lot of benefit” to Cambodia’s economy.

Figures released by the International Monetary Fund late last year, using data from the National Bank of Cambodia, show that Cambodia is strengthening its economic ties with China.

Merchandise imports from China have risen every year for the previous nine years, rising from just US$86.9 million in 2001 to $1.2 billion in 2008.

Chinese investors – who have a large presence in Cambodia – praised the move Thursday.

Chairman and CEO of Phnom Penh’s Worldwide Garage, Peang Mann, who imports cars made by the Great Wall firm, said he will appreciate the establishment of new consular offices and hopes it will help facilitate greater dialogue on import tax.

“It will be good for us if we have very good cooperation [with China] in terms of import and exports, especially if the new establishment can urge many Chinese banks to allow us to get loans for making more exports from China,” he said.

He added that if the establishments are successful in boosting favourable business, the firm will increase car imports from 200 to 300 this year.

Ministry of Commerce Undersecretary of State Em Sophoan said Thursday that he supports the signing of the laws, and that they will boost trade relations between the three countries.

“It is good for us that we can carry out trade activities smoothly going forward, especially as it will help to distribute development in our country,” he said.

A representative from the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh did not reply to an emailed request for comment Thursday.

The deal with Vietnam will pass into law a waterway-transportation agreement that covers customs, transportation and commercial dealings in Cambodia.

“It will help facilitate the transportation of goods such as agricultural products, general goods and oil to and from the two countries along the Mekong River and by sea,” Cheam Yeap said.

In the first two months of this year, trade with Vietnam rose by 54.8 percent to $262.7 million, compared to $169.7 million in the same period of 2009, according Vietnamese Embassy data released in March.

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