Deputy Prime Minister Hor Nam Hong said yesterday that Cambodia and China will sign a free trade agreement before August 12 ahead of the European Union’s partial withdrawal of the Everything-but-Arms (EBA) trade status.
He was speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting to discuss an action plan for the China-Cambodia Community of Shared Future at the Office of the Council of Ministers.
He said Prime Minister Hun Sen will travel to China to preside over the signing ceremony of the agreement.
“This agreement will open the door for more of our goods and agricultural products, such as bananas, cassava flour and rubber, to be exported to China. That is why China told Cambodia to speed up the work plans,” Nam Hong said.
He said relations between Cambodia and China have reached a high level, especially during the time when Mr Hun Sen visited China, which at the time was experiencing a severe COVID-19 outbreak, with no other world leader daring to enter Chinese territory.
“At that time, the Chinese said that Mr Hun Sen’s visit was an unprecedented historical visit and Chinese President Xi Jinping confirmed that the Cambodia-China friendship is ironclad,” he said.
In 2010, Cambodia and China agreed to create comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation.
Cambodia and China signed an action plan between 2019 and 2023 to build the China-Cambodia Community of Shared Future in Beijing on 28 April last year.
“So, we are focusing on the framework of this community’s five-year plan,” Nam Hong said.
He said that from this year till 2025, China will also extend credit for projects such as road construction and repairs, rice storage warehouse and rice drier construction, hospital construction in rural areas, and electricity connection and water supplies in rural areas to improve the lives of Cambodian people.
Nam Hong said that this year Cambodia has exported more than 300,000 tonnes of rice to China which has agreed to work together with Cambodia to reach an export target of 400,000 tonnes for this year.
On February 12, the European Commission persuaded the EU to withdraw part of its preferences for Cambodia by claiming “systematic violations” of human rights.
The withdrawal will take effect on August 12 unless a last-minute change of heart occurs.