The Kingdom expects the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) to come into force on January 1, after an expert committee of the National Assembly (NA) endorsed a draft law on the deal’s ratification.
The next step will be for the NA to review the document.
Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak on July 8 led an inter-ministerial delegation to a meeting led by Nin Saphon, chairwoman of the NA’s 9th Commission, to defend the document, as well as the Draft Law on Competition.
The minister highlighted the CCFTA’s weighty role in the implementation of the Rectangular Strategy Phase IV of the government of the sixth legislature of the NA, in accordance with the fourth point on strengthening Cambodia’s capacity to continue its integration into the regional and global economies.
“In the context of the crisis brought on by the infectious Covid-19 disease, these two laws will support the strategy to rehabilitate the Cambodian economy, which has been severely affected by the pandemic, as well as help to strengthen socio-economic immunity in the new normalisation of Cambodian society through the growth of exports to the Chinese market and the flow of investment into Cambodia, which will help create jobs and income for our people,” he said.
Most of Cambodia’s imports to China are agricultural products, while imported products include machinery, construction materials and electronics.
Saphon expressed her full support for the two draft laws and commended the CCFTA negotiating team for their efforts in successfully concluding talks on the trade deal.
She said she expects the two pieces of legislation to be approved and enter into force on January 1.
The CCFTA was signed by Sorasak and his Chinese counterpart Zhong Shan via video link on October 12, with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi as witnesses.
The Cambodian commerce ministry previously claimed that the CCFTA would provide the Kingdom duty-free access to over 300 items.
China would grant duty-free status to 95 per cent of agricultural imports from Cambodia, it said.
Ministry spokesman Seang Thay told The Post early this month that once the CCFTA is ratified by both countries, Cambodia expects to receive a litany of benefits, such as access to a wider market.
He noted, however, that China will accord duty-free status to more imports from Cambodia than the Kingdom will to those from the East Asian economy.
Other perks include a freer flow of goods and additional opportunities to attract foreign investment to Cambodia, as well as a shot in the arm for Cambodian agricultural exports to the Chinese market, he said.
“This agreement will play a large role in stimulating domestic production, especially in some agricultural segments such as bananas, mangoes, cassava, longan, cashew nuts and so on,” Thay said.
Cambodia and China plan to boost bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2023.
However, largely due to Covid-19, bilateral trade between Cambodia and China fell 5.2 per cent last year over 2019, to $8.11807 billion, according to the ministry.
Of that, the Kingdom’s exports were to the tune of $1.08626 billion, up by 8.11 per cent, as imports reached $7.03181 billion, down by 6.97 per cent.