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Ratification of FTA with China in sight

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The signing ceremony for the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) is presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen and Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi as witnesses, at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on October 12. SPM

Ratification of FTA with China in sight

The Cambodian Ministry of Commerce expects the bilateral Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) to be ratified by the National Assembly “soon”.

Cambodia hopes that the trade deal will widen the Kingdom’s export market, especially agricultural products, ministry spokesman Seang Thay told The Post on July 5.

The CCFTA was signed by Cambodian Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak and his Chinese counterpart Zhong Shan via video link on October 12, with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi as witnesses.

Thay said that after the signing, the ministry completed the subsequent internal procedures and submitted the relevant documents to a Cabinet expert committee.

With the committee’s backing, and then the Cabinet’s approval, the documents were forwarded to an NA expert committee, he said.

The next step, he said, would be to put the CCFTA to a vote at the NA.

He said his and other relevant ministries were ready to address the NA expert committee as well as the plenary session convened by the NA.

Once the FTA is ratified by both countries, Cambodia expects to receive many benefits, such as access to a wider market, he said, noting that China accords duty-free status to more imports from Cambodia than the Kingdom does to those from the East Asian country.

Other perks include a freer flow of goods and additional opportunities to attract foreign investment to Cambodia, as well as a shot in the arm for Cambodian agricultural exports to the Chinese market, he said

“This agreement will play a large role in stimulating domestic production, especially in some agricultural segments such as bananas, mangoes, cassava, longan, cashew nuts and so on,” Thay said.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng said the FTA would boost the presence of Cambodian goods in China, especially agricultural products.

The Kingdom will also see greater direct investment targeting products for export to major economies, especially China, which, he said, boasts a vast market with robust economic growth.

“Cambodia will gain a positive national economy through increased investment, new jobs and expanded export capacity,” he said.

Cambodia mainly imports machinery and construction materials from China, and exports agricultural products, according to Heng.

Early last month in China, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi pledged to work together to speed up internal procedures for the ratification of the CCFTA, to promote trade, investment and tourism between the two countries for the benefit of the peoples, and build a common destiny.

The Cambodian commerce minister previously noted that the agreement would prop up the Cambodia’s agricultural exports to the Chinese market, despite the Kingdom’s vast trade deficit and China’s expansive agricultural portfolio.

Sorasak added that the Kingdom expects the FTA to lift Cambodian exports to China by about 25 per cent.

The Cambodian commerce ministry previously claimed that the CCFTA would provide the Kingdom duty-free access to over 300 items.

China would accord duty-free status to 95 per cent of agricultural imports from Cambodia, it said.

Cambodia and China plan to boost bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2023.

However, largely due to Covid-19, bilateral trade between Cambodia and China fell 5.2 per cent last year over 2019, to $8.11807 billion, according to the Cambodian commerce ministry.

Of that, the Kingdom’s exports were to the tune of $1.08626 billion, up by 8.11 per cent, as imports reached $7.03181 billion, down by 6.97 per cent.

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