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Sino-Cambodia FTA talks wrap up, signing to follow

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A video conference between Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak and his Chinese counterpart Zhong Shan on Monday. The Ministry of Commerce

Sino-Cambodia FTA talks wrap up, signing to follow

Cambodia and China wrapped up free trade agreement (FTA) talks on Monday, the Ministry of Commerce said.

The announcement was made during a video conference between Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak and his Chinese counterpart Zhong Shan.

The deal is expected to propel bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2023, the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh said.

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and China was worth $9.42 billion last year, up 27.29 per cent from $7.4 billion in 2018, data showed.

Once signed later this year, the deal will enable the liberalisation of trade in goods and services and provide greater market access for the Kingdom’s products, Sorasak said.

He said it will also broaden investment options and provide socio-economic benefits to the people of both countries.

The next step in the process, Sorasak said, will be for the two sides to complete their respective internal procedures and prepare for a signing later this year.

“The successful conclusion of the FTA negotiations in such a short time exhibits the will of the two countries’ leaders to forge closer, stronger and broader ties.

“The agreement reflects the long tradition of relationships as well as cooperation under the comprehensive partnership between the two countries,” Sorasak said.

The two countries began to discuss the feasibility of a bilateral FTA in December and initiated the first round of negotiations in January.

Ministry spokesman Seang Thay told The Post on Tuesday that all terms of the deal have been agreed by both sides, which are deliberating on a suitable time for the signing.

“We hope that once the agreement comes into force, Cambodian exports to China will grow around 25 per cent per annum, given the extensive concessions accorded across a broad range of products,” he said.

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) secretary-general Ken Loo previously told The Post that the FTA with China will strongly stimulate the Kingdom’s exports – not only in the garment sector.

There will be a greater flow of investment from China, he said.

“From what we have read from the Ministry of Commerce’s statement regarding the results of the third round of negotiations, exports from Cambodia are set to increase more than 20 per cent.

“At the same time, we will see more investment into the raw material supply for garment, footwear and travel goods, electronics and other industries. I believe the FTA will help other sectors much more than the garment sector,” said Loo.

Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary of state Vongsey Vissoth told a press conference on July 8 that Prime Minister Hun Sen would lead a delegation of high ranking officials to sign the FTA in Beijing on August 12.

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