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Direct China cargo on course

Shipping containers sit at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port before being transported last year in Preah Sihanouk province.
Shipping containers sit at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port before being transported last year in Preah Sihanouk province. Heng Chivoan

Direct China cargo on course

Two Chinese shipping giants will soon sign agreements with Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (SAP), paving the way for exporters to move cargo directly from Cambodia to China, according to a senior port official.

Lou Kimchhun, director general of SAP, said yesterday that a rise in the Kingdom’s exports had drawn the attention of marine freight companies China Shipping Container Lines and China Ocean Shipping Group Company (COSCO).

Yet, to ship from Cambodia, China Shipping Container Lines and COSCO are among the world’s largest freight transport firms, combining for an annual capacity of more than 1.2 million standard 20-foot containers, known as TEUs.

When exporting to China, the shipping behemoths would avoid the stopover at Vietnam’s Cai Mep port near Ho Chi Min City, and be the first to link Cambodia directly with the world’s second-largest economy, Kimchhun added.

“Very soon, we will have the direct shipment from our country to China without going through Vietnam as we will reach agreement with China Shipping Lines within the next few weeks while the COSCO will reach the agreement later because we need further talks,” he said.

“It will definitely benefit a lot the traders which have business with Chinese counterparts.

Moreover, it will not only help our exporters for exporting directly to China, but also to other destinations with a more competitive fee,” he added.

Song Saran, chairman of Amru Rice, one of the Kingdom’s leading milled rice exporters, welcomed the news he said would give exporters greater options.

“We really applaud with the port, once they can do this, as we have recognised the two shipping companies are very big.

So, our exporters will not only use them for exports to China, but also to Europe.

They just offer more competitiveness at the global market,” he said.

Noting a rise in trade between China and Cambodia, Independent economist Srey Chanthy said that exporters could expect cheaper overheads when a direct shipping line opened up.

“Exporters do not have to go through paperwork twice if they export direct from Cambodia to China or other parts of the world.

If they do that through Vietnam they have to go through the paperwork twice,” he said.

“More shipping companies means more competitive services are available for exporters.

So, quality and prices have to be competitive – that is good for exporters,” he said.

In 2014, bilateral trade between Cambodia and China stood at $3.77 billion. By 2017, the two countries have pledged to boost this to $5 billion.

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