Cambodia's Innovation and Development Investors Association (IDI) has entered into a strategic cooperation agreement with Chongqing HongJiu, one of China’s largest fruit importers, and Asia Cassava Holding, a major Chinese tapioca wholesaler and importer, to export agricultural goods to China.

The agreement was signed at the 20th Cambodia-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, China on September 17, according to IDI chairman Hor Sereyvath’s official Facebook page.

Prime Minister Hun Manet, in his opening address at the expo, lauded the excellent cooperation that exists through ASEAN-led regional architecture, such as the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and other bilateral trade agreements, despite global economic challenges.

While noting the expo’s contribution to increasing trade between the ASEAN and China, Manet said last year, trade between the bloc and China reached $722 billion.

“When Covid-19 upended the world, the movement of people declined, but we saw first-hand that the movement of goods continued to flourish. In 2021 and 2022, trade in goods even exceeded pre-pandemic levels – highlighting the essential role of commerce in ensuring the socio-economic security of people around the world.

“As the pandemic subsides, we face new challenges such as rising commodity prices, food insecurity and climate change. I would like to highlight the important role of trade in tackling these global challenges to ensure that interdependence and globalisation are mutually beneficial. Trade should not be used as a weapon that undermines global economic security,” he added.

He identified the key roles ASEAN and China played in demonstrating the benefits of improving multilateral cooperation, without the need of excessive protectionism or economic nationalism.

In the first quarter of 2023, Cambodia exported nearly $1.4 billion worth of agricultural products to 53 markets, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries’ General Directorate of Agriculture (GDA) stated.

The January-March exports weighed in at almost 2.6 million tonnes, the GDA reported, suggesting a per-kilogramme average of 53.4 US cents.

Broken down by category, overseas sales of non-rice items over the three-month period accounted for the lion’s share at $919.7 million or 66.4 per cent, followed by paddy rice ($313.9 million; 22.67%) and milled rice ($151 million; 10.90%).

The GDA did not provide year-on-year comparison figures, although it reported around the same time last year that the Kingdom exported 3.4 million tonnes of agricultural products worth $1.3 billion to 57 markets in January-March 2022, or a per-kg average of 36.9 US cents.