Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol on Tuesday called on China’s Hunan province to promote bilateral trade, cooperation and investment, and seize opportunities in many potential sectors.
He was speaking at the Hunan Investment Promotion and Machinery Expo in Phnom Penh on Tuesday to a consortium of hundreds of businessmen and investors from the province, which was led by Communist Party Secretary of Hunan province Du Jiahao.
The move comes as part of a vow made by leaders of both countries in January to boost bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2023.
Chanthol said the event served as an important platform that provides direct engagement between businessmen and investors from Hunan province and Cambodia’s business community to share information and seek business and investment opportunities.
“Peace, as well as political and macroeconomic stability have been largely contributing to building strong relations between Cambodia and China.
“The launch of the Belt and Road Initiative [BRI] by Chinese leader [Xi Jinping] in 2013 has especially contributed a lot to the development of the Cambodian economy in recent years,” Chanthol said.
He said China had become the Kingdom’s main partner in trade, investment and tourism, with bilateral trade reaching about $7 billion last year – up 28 per cent compared to 2017.
China accounts for 70 per cent of approved foreign direct investment, he said, with around two million Chinese tourists visiting Cambodia last year.
“[China’s contribution] could be the momentum needed to spur the implementation of Cambodia Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025 and help maintain Cambodia’s economic growth at seven per cent [per annum] in the medium-term.
“This will pave the way for Cambodia to attain upper-middle-income status by 2030 and high-income status by 2050,” he said.
Meanwhile, Du said the BRI has been key in promoting cooperation between Cambodia and China and attracting a lot of investment from Hunan province.
“By September this year, we have some 37 companies from Hunan investing in Cambodia with a capital investment of about $500 million. More than 30,000 people from Hunan are currently working in Cambodia,” he said.
“This is a result of good cooperation between the leaders of both countries.”
Chanthol said China has provided $2.89 billion in soft loans to Cambodia for infrastructure projects – especially roads, bridges and ports – which are the backbones of the economy.
“The Belt and Road Initiative and the establishment of the Asian Investment and Infrastructure Bank – of which Cambodia is a founding member – have bolstered the development of Cambodia’s infrastructure, hydro-dams, ports and special economic zones.
“With a strategic geographical location in central Southeast Asia, young and cheap labour, as well as open investment laws, we welcome and encourage more investors and businesses from Hunan to seize these great opportunities in Cambodia,” Chanthol said.