Cambodia and Vietnam have negotiated an agreement on agriculture to strengthen import-export controls and prevent the illegal cross-border timber and wildlife trade, among other issues, according to Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon.

The minister said on December 21 that he had already discussed the details and how to strengthen technical cooperation with his Vietnamese counterpart Le Quoc Doanh, with the agreement expected to be signed in the near future.

Sakhon said there are many private companies from Vietnam that have now made large investments in the cultivation, processing and packaging of Cambodian agricultural products. He said Vietnam is a growing market for Cambodian exports such as rice, fresh and dried cassava, corn, cashew nuts, mangoes, bananas and rubber.

In the first 11 months of this year, Cambodia exported $3.73 billion worth of agricultural products to Vietnam, and imported $3.32 billion.

The investments made with Vietnamese capital, Sakhon said, have greatly contributed to the sustainable development of the sector and especially to the creation jobs for Cambodians, clearly demonstrating the mutual benefits of trade for both countries.

Sakhon said that during the meeting the two sides discussed facilitating exports and imports of livestock and the prevention and control of animal diseases and the implementation of animal quarantine along the border.

Chea Chamroeun, director of the NGO Save the Environment and Agriculture, said it was good that the two countries have agreed to work together to prevent illegal timber and wildlife trade.

“Blackmarket traders and smugglers like to use back roads and shortcuts across the border. The official roads and points of entry are closed or require inspections to use but there are so many unofficial crossing points that let them circumvent the restrictions.

“Both Cambodia and Vietnam need to work together to tighten up border security in remote places far away from the official checkpoints if they want to stop timber and wildlife trafficking,” he said.