Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday vowed to encourage more Chinese investors to visit Cambodia and contribute to the Kingdom’s development and economic growth.
The pledge was made during a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is the only national leader to visit China since the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) pandemic began.
Xi heralded a “new era” of Cambodia-China relations, saying that the implementation of a “common-fate” policy will upgrade ties between the two countries to a new level.
He expressed his gratitude to Hun Sen for his continued strong support, suggesting that the prime minister’s visit demonstrates the Kingdom’s increased confidence in China, a press release issued via Hun Sen’s Facebook page said on Thursday.
“China will continue to support free trade talks between the two countries which have to be sped up.
“The Chinese government will encourage more Chinese investors to invest in Cambodia and import Cambodian products into China,” Xi was quoted as saying in the release.
Last month, Xi lauded the Kingdom’s directive to stop online gambling – which was issued in August – calling it a step in the right direction.
“China will assist Cambodia and Sihanoukville according to their needs,” he said.
The Chinese president also called on the Cambodian government to look into the obstacles that Chinese investors face and find ways to help them.
Hun Sen welcomed China’s helping hand, noting that the Kingdom’s economic growth is expected to be clouded by external factors.
“The Cambodian government will make every effort to attract more investors and expresses its hope that China will expand its market for Cambodian products.
“Overall, the relationship between Cambodia and China, especially in terms of investment and trade, is moving smoothly and with good speed,” he said.
The first round of negotiations for a Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement highlighted the potential for creating strong economic and investment partnerships between the countries in the coming years, the Ministry of Commerce said in a press release on January 28.
The talks were held in Beijing on January 20-21 and was presided by Ministry of Commerce secretary of state Sok Sopheak and Assistant Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China Ren Hongbin.
The free trade agreement aims to boost bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2023, the ministry said.
Ministry spokesman Seang Thay said his ministry will lead a technical team for the second round of free trade talks with China in April and expedite the process according to the target of both leaders.
The bilateral trade volume between the two countries reached $7.4 billion last year, a 22 per cent increase compared to 2017’s $6.04 billion, ministry data shows.
Between 1993 and the end of 2017, Cambodia signed $9.6 billion in concessional loan agreements with development partners. The government borrowed around $6.3 billion from various countries – $4.05 billion of which came from China.
According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance, China invested some $14.7 billion in the Kingdom between 1994 and 2016.