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Agri ministry looks to Japan, US investors to power export drive

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Agriculture minister Dith Tina meets with outgoing Japanese ambassador Masahiro Mikami on December 2. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Agri ministry looks to Japan, US investors to power export drive

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is accelerating and expanding the export of Cambodia’s agriculture produce to the US and Japanese markets as part of a push to boost local production of goods aimed at export markets specifically.

Agriculture minister Dith Tina discussed this with a delegation of US-based investors on December 2. Separately, later that day, Tina also met with outgoing Japanese ambassador Masahiro Mikami.

Tina’s discussion with the delegation touched on the export of agricultural products to the US, such as fish sauce, dried shrimp, mangos and banana preserves as well as fresh vegetables.

“The interest of American investors in Cambodian agricultural produce is a really positive sign that it will be possible to promote Cambodia’s agricultural sector by exporting produce to the US market. This could only be possible through cooperation between technical experts from both sides to ensure quantity and quality,” Tina said.

“The agriculture ministry … will facilitate and work to address all issues that may arise to enable companies to successfully export agricultural produce as well as food from Cambodia to the US and other countries,” he added.

During his meeting with Mikami, Tina pledged to continue cooperation with Japan in implementing the projects that provide mutual benefits for both sides. He also requested that Japan push for investment in quality agricultural products that meet international standards, especially for packaging, so that more produce can be exported to markets in Japan.

Ky Sereyvath, an economic researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said he supports the expansion of Cambodia’s agricultural product exports. He urged the ministry to try to solve the challenges related to agricultural product markets as farmers are faced with the problem of low prices being offered in domestic markets for their goods.

He said the market issue is exacerbated by the fact that farmers in the Kingdom still have a comparatively limited knowledge of farming as compared to some other countries in the region.

“The agriculture and farming sector is not one that only exists in Cambodia. In Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, they are strong in this sector. Right now there is a greater amount of supply available than there is demand, which makes the price drop,” he said.

Customs figures show that, in the first 10 months of the year, Cambodian merchandise imports and exports came to $25.82 billion and $18.75 billion, respectively, up 12.0 per cent and 19.2 per cent over the same period of 2021.

In the January-October period, the Cambodia-US merchandise trade reached $7.89 billion, up 24.2 per cent from the same time in 2021, when the global economy and trade were still under great pressure from the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Cambodia-Japan trade clocked in at $1.65 billion, with the Kingdom’s imports from and exports to the East Asian country respectively accounting for $664.75 million and $988.39 million. Historically, exports to Japan have mostly been concentrated in the garment, footwear and travel goods sectors.

The agriculture ministry also encouraged American and Japanese investors to make direct investments in businesses in the Kingdom to increase exports of Cambodian products to those countries, which will bring the mutual benefit of economic growth.

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