Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak lobbied his visiting Chinese counterpart, Gao Hucheng, yesterday to consider doubling Cambodia’s annual rice export quota to China while also proposing a host of agricultural trade agreements.
In a press release following a meeting, Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce said the Chinese government would consult with its relevant agencies to push for up to a 97 per cent tariff reduction scheme that provides duty- and quota-free access to Asia’s largest economy “as soon as possible”.
China will also consider increasing the export quota on Cambodian rice to 200,000 tonnes starting in 2017, as well as continuing to negotiate on the exports of broken rice, banana, mango, longan, cashew nut, pepper, coffee and soybean. The current export quota on rice to China is 100,000 tonnes per year.
Ministry spokesperson Soeng Sophary stressed that while the talks were fruitful, no official decisions were made.
“China accepted our suggestions for consideration,” she said, adding that she hoped they would not be rejected. “Once China agrees on any point that Cambodia suggests, we will be ready to sign with them.”
David Van, local managing director of Bower Group Asia, said in order to secure trade deals Cambodian agricultural products need to adopt China’s strict sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) protocols – a longtime barrier for the Kingdom’s exports.
“They can give us duty and quota free access, but they might still strictly control SPS,” he said. “If that is so, we still will not be able to export to their country until we improve our products.”