Cambodian and Chinese leaders on February 10 pledged to further strengthen key aspects of cooperation in areas of trade, investment, tourism and economics, as senior officials signed major agreements.

Addressing the opening of the Cambodia-China Business, Investment and Tourism Forum in Beijing, China, Prime Minister Hun Sen remarked that the “ironclad” and “unbreakable” Sino-Cambodian friendship, established by former leaders and nurtured by their current counterparts, will remain “immortal”, and that the two countries will work together to deal with any obstacles, no matter what.

Bilateral cooperation, through a suite of mechanisms, “has boosted overall trade growth between Cambodia and China every year”, he said.

Offering examples of such mechanisms, he listed “cooperative plans for 2023-2025 development, a Fish and Rice Corridor, a common gateway for trade, a model industrial development corridor to create a multi-purpose economic zone in Preah Sihanouk province, and support for Cambodia to be able fully participate in the China Export and Import Fair”.

Hun Sen voiced expectations that the forum will inspire concerted Cambodian-Chinese efforts to pursue open policies and the Belt and Road Initiative, which he said would stimulate post-Covid-19 economic recovery, as well as strengthen bilateral trade, investment, tourism and economic ties, especially after the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) came into force on January 1, 2022.

“Therefore, the private sectors of the two countries must strive to use this forum to exchange views and engage with partners in various priority areas to the maximum. Please trust that the Cambodian and Chinese governments will continue to support the private sector,” he stated.

Cambodia has newly enacted the Law on Investment and Law on Public-Private Partnerships aiming to provide non-discriminatory support to foreign investors in accordance with international rules, Hun Sen said.

The forum will provide the latest information on Cambodian and Chinese policies on trade, investment and tourism, and serve as a platform to discuss, exchange experiences and connect with potential business partners to foster cooperation, business, investments and tourism between the two countries, he added.

Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak told the event that the CCFTA, coupled with the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), develops the tools to pave the way for the implementation of strategic partnerships and fostering stronger economic, trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.

“Cambodia continues to promote and diversify its exports, and strives to capitalise on existing opportunities and the need to prepare for new market opportunities and further strengthen competitiveness, especially for exports to regional countries, which hold potential for local and foreign businessmen and investors, especially Chinese [ones],” he said.

The commerce ministry reported that in 2022, bilateral trade and mainland visitors to Cambodia respectively rose by 4.48 per cent and 133.5 per cent on-year – whereas Customs put the former at 4.39 per cent – but that new Chinese private investment in the Kingdom dipped by 35.1 per cent, as Covid disruptions persisted.