China is considering setting up an industrial zone in Cambodia and says it will announce new areas of cooperation with Asean nations in line with Cambodia’s industrial development policy.
The issues were discussed on Saturday when Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak met Xu Ningning, executive president of the China-Asean Business Council, to consider cooperation and investment opportunities in Cambodia.
Mr. Sorasak said that agriculture is still very important for Cambodia and needs a lot of investment. Linking industrial development to agriculture could benefit both sectors.
“Chinese investors invest in the establishment of industrial zones that could manufacture agricultural equipment as well as construction material which is in high demand due to the construction boom in the Kingdom,” he said.
Mr. Sorasak said that as part of Cambodia-China cooperation, China plans to establish the Cambodia-China Friendship City in Cambodia and build an expressway connecting Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk province, Siem Reap airport and a multi-function stadium.
“The royal government of Cambodia plans to transform the whole of Preah Sihanouk province into a special economic zone as this province has a lot of potential and is the only deep water sea seaport in Cambodia,” he said.
Mr. Xu said that Asean is a large market for China and many Chinese investors have a lot of interests in the regional grouping.
“With the upcoming announcement of China-Asean Industrial Cooperation, Cambodia’s Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025 could be studied concurrently with that of Asean,” he said.
Mr. Xu added that this could help to find common ground to establish an action plan for industrial development in Cambodia which would help in attracting more investment.
He said upon his return he will discuss this proposition with the Chinese Agriculture Equipment Association.
According to Commerce Ministry figures, trade between Cambodia and China was $4.3 billion last year, an increase of about 15.19 percent from the $3.8 billion in 2014. Last year Cambodia exported about $405 million worth of goods to China and imported about $3.9 billion from the country.
According to the ministry, foreign direct investment from China in the first 10 months of this year was $720 million with about 84 ongoing projects with most investment going to agriculture, the agro-industry, the manufacturing industry, tourism, energy, construction and real estate and the financial industry.
According to a report from the Council for the Development of Cambodia, China is the largest foreign investor in Cambodia with an accumulated investment of more than $14 billion between 1994 and October this year.
In 1991, trade between China and Asean was only $7.96 billion but since then it has increased meteorically. Last year, bilateral trade reached $472.16 billion, a nearly 60-fold increase.
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