Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina announced that Cambodia intends to establish closer agricultural cooperation with China in the coming years for their mutual benefit.

Tina gave an interview to Chinese state media outlet Xinhua, which was published on November 9, while Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is currently present in Cambodia to attend the ASEAN Summit and related meetings.

In the interview, Tina said the two countries already have strong cooperation in the sector and that many Cambodian agricultural products such as rice, bananas and mangoes are present and gaining popularity in the Chinese market, noting that longans have also recently been approved for export to China.

“I am confident that Cambodia and China can expand their agricultural relations more and more widely in the coming years by understanding China’s market demand and Cambodia’s possibilities to supply those needs as well as cultural exchanges between the two countries,” said Tina in the interview.

He expressed hope that more students would have the opportunity for exchange programmes and scholarships at China’s top universities to learn new agricultural knowledge, and that it would be even better if agricultural officials from Cambodia had the opportunity to visit the relevant departments in the agricultural sector in China.

In terms of trade, the opportunity to attend trade fairs and participate in business-to-business meetings through various chambers of commerce is a good thing that would allow traders of both countries to explore new options and to understand the market needs and consumer desires, said Tina.

The agriculture minister also encouraged the establishment of study tours for Cambodian farmers to learn and gain knowledge from China’s more advanced agricultural sector.

Tina also noted that from 2019 through June 2022, Cambodia exported a total of 2.4 million tonnes of agricultural products to China, with a total export value of $1.94 billion. According to Tina, this data shows that the Chinese market still has a lot of potential to absorb more Cambodian agricultural products and that the two countries have not yet grown trade to its maximum potential in this sector.

“I would like to encourage all stakeholders of the two countries to push for closer cooperation to find new, better and more effective ways to respond to this potential,” he said.

He stressed that Cambodia can ensure the quality of products that meet the needs and hygiene standards of China, adding that many Cambodian agricultural products are grown organically and can meet the needs of Chinese consumers already. He said the short distance between the two countries also ensures the freshness of produce grown in Cambodia and sold to China.

At the same time, the minister expressed a desire to see more Chinese investment in agriculture, saying that Chinese enterprises have more experience in this field than Cambodians do.

“Cambodia is ready to further promote cooperation with China for new investments in agriculture to serve the mutual benefit of the people from the two countries and boost our bilateral trade volume to new heights,” said Tina.

In the interview, Tina also mentioned the benefits of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) for the development of Cambodia’s agricultural sector.

The minister said RCEP and CCFTA are mutually beneficial free trade agreements that both contribute to the growth of the agricultural sector and help the wellbeing and prosperity of farmers.