Trade volume between the ASEAN bloc and China’s northwest Shaanxi province reached 19.33 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) in the first half of this year, gaining 66.3 per cent year-on-year, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing data from the Shaanxi provincial Department of Commerce.

The department was quoted as saying that ASEAN countries have become vital markets for the province’s companies in terms of project contracting and foreign investment.

Shaanxi has also become a foreign investment destination, with 266 ASEAN firms having set up in the provincial capital Xi’an with total investment of nearly $5.76 billion, Xinhua reported.

Ma Yuhong, head of the Shaanxi branch of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said ASEAN-Shaanxi trade volume has seen steady growth in the past few years, hitting 27.76 billion yuan last year.

Ma said the province will work closely with ASEAN in fields such as modern agriculture, financial innovations and the sharing of international trade routes, as reported by Xinhua.

ASEAN topped the list of China’s trade partners, logging 2.09 trillion yuan in the first half of this year, surging 5.6 per cent year-on-year. This accounts for 14.7 per cent of China’s total foreign trade, Xinhua reported, citing data from the General Administration of Customs.

Cambodia has six trade centres in China – in Guangzhou, Guangdong province; Xi’an, Shaanxi province; Haining, Zhejiang province; Yantai, Shandong province; Hong Kong; and Kunming, Yunnan province. It set up the Xi’an trade centre in May 2017.

Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak said in December: “The centres have played an important role in serving as a platform to display Cambodian products, and share information on tourism as well as investment and trade opportunities to Chinese businessmen and investors.”

In May last year, more than 100 Cambodian officials attended the fourth Silk Road International Exposition in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province.

The following month, Shaanxi provincial Department of Commerce deputy director Shi Zhijun said the Shaanxi government should hold more economic and trade events to educate Chinese companies about Cambodia’s investment laws.

He said: “We need to exchange frequent visits between senior officials from Shaanxi and Cambodia to promote cooperation and reciprocate information.

“We encourage companies in Shaanxi province to invest in Cambodia. We recently set up a business platform to provide risk assessments and other financial services.”

According to official ministry data, China invested some $14.7 billion in Cambodia from 1994 to 2016. The data also shows that from 1993 to the end of 2017, Cambodia signed concessional loan agreements with development partners to the value of $9.6 billion.

The report added that the government borrowed some $6.3 billion from countries on a bilateral basis, with $4.05 billion of this coming from China.