The Ministry of Public Works and Transport is coordinating efforts to improve the ease of transporting Cambodian agricultural products to Chinese markets, as current routes through Thailand and Vietnam present some difficulties, said ministry spokesman Kong Vimean.

Vimean explained that during July 24 discussions between Chinese investors and advisors to the Cashew nut Association of Cambodia (CAC), several companies made mention of the increasing cost and complexity of using the Kingdom’s neighbouring countries as a bridge to China.

“We examined the legal aspects and several documents submitted by three large Chinese companies.

“We are now coordinating plans that will enable Chinese investors to transport Cambodian agricultural products to Chinese markets via Laos,” he said.

He explained that the new trade route will run from Phnom Penh via Kampong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Kratie and Stung Treng provinces to Laos, and then on to China via high-speed train.

The route will present no problems as Cambodia, Laos and China have established procedures and agreements for the cross-border transport of goods.

“The three Chinese companies said transporting goods via Thailand and Vietnam was increasingly costly and that they were encountering difficulties arranging simple procedures. Although the distance travelled via Laos is a little further, the costs are lower and the formalities are far more straight forward. This is why these companies have asked us to coordinate this work,” he said.

He added doing so was not difficult, as Cambodia, China and Laos are all members of the Mekong River Commission, and have always benefited one another.

He explained that the ministry would be happy to facilitate similar arrangements for other Chinese companies, as it was pleased to take any opportunity to boost the Kingdom’s agricultural sector on the international stage.

Vimean expected the arrangements to increase exports of several agricultural products, including mangos, durian, cashew nuts, pineapples, and milled rice to China.

Cambodia Logistics Association president Sin Chanthy noted that the new trade routes would certainly benefit the association, explaining that the Chinese companies would establish a dry port in Stung Treng town.

These companies cultivate a great deal of products in the province.

“The transport of agricultural products via Stung Treng will be more profitable than the use of the ports of Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, which are far away. Thanks to the transport ministry’s coordination of the new infrastructure, it will also be simpler,” he said.

Chanthy added that his association and other stakeholders had sought out gateways for the export of Cambodian goods to neighbouring countries such as China through a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on infrastructure.

However, arranging the transport of goods via other nations remained complex, as other countries also needed to see benefits. If no such benefits were obvious, they were uninterested.