The Phnom Penh Post - 13 December 2020
China FTA set for National Assembly ratification
By Thou Vireak
The inter-ministerial committee in charge of Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) negotiations is preparing documents to submit to the National Assembly (NA) for a ratification and an ambitious implementation by January 1.
The two countries signed the agreement on October 12 this year following three rounds of negotiations held between January and July.
Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay told The Post that the submission was the next step in the Kingdom’s internal procedures leading to ratification.
“The agreement will enter into force after the National Assembly ratifies it and the two sides have exchanged diplomatic instruments,” he said, adding that trade under the CCFTA framework is possible only after the deal goes into effect.
For the time being, he said Cambodia and China can still trade through preferential frameworks and deals that the two countries have signed, such as the ASEAN-China free trade agreement
“Processed agricultural products, leather goods and garments, fruits, grains and meats are Cambodia’s leading commodities for the Chinese market, and after implementing the CCFTA, a broader spectrum of goods from the agro-processing industry will also be potential export commodities,” Thay said.
Hun Lak, director of Longmate Agriculture Co Ltd, a producer of bananas and dragon fruit, told The Post that the deal would open up huge market opportunities for agro-producers.
In recent years, he noted, there has been the development of medium and large-scale agricultural production that can meet the demands of foreign markets, such as yellow bananas, cashew nuts, pepper, mangoes, jackfruit, durian and dragon fruit, all of which are potential products for export to the Chinese market.
“Once the agreement takes effect, having new markets will provide opportunities for greater investment in the agro-industry,” he said.
At the same time, he also called on the private sector to improve quality, hygiene and production capacity to maintain the trade balance with China after the CCFTA commences.
“I also hope the relevant governmental institutions will work together to promote the agro-industrial sector by encouraging investment in processing plants and the development of road infrastructure and cold storage,” he said.
Chan Pich, general manager of Signatures of Asia Co Ltd – a rice, pepper and palm sugar exporter – said the agreement would increase the value of Cambodia’s agricultural products.
“This agreement will greatly benefit all exporters, and we are optimistic that it will facilitate opening new markets for our products in China,” he said.
The CCFTA will cover more than 340 Cambodian goods to be exported to the Chinese market, including spices, nuts, honey, vegetables, meats, fish and seafood products such as clams, crabs and snails.
Cambodia will gain access to the Chinese market for about 98 per cent of the nation’s list of exported goods, while Cambodia permits market access for roughly 90 per cent of Chinese products.
According to the Chinese embassy in Cambodia, bilateral trade between Cambodia and China totalled $9.42 billion last year, up 27.3 per cent from $7.4 billion in 2018.