Cambodia and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on e-commerce cooperation on Friday, by which China will provide technical advice to help boost e-commerce in the kingdom.
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The new agreement – signed by Kim Sithorn, the acting minister representing the Ministry of Commerce (MoC), and Wang Bingnan, the Chinese vice-minister of commerce – arrives at a critical moment for the sector as Cambodia’s long awaited E-commerce Law is expected to be passed and come into effect next year, according to a representative of the MoC.
Sok Sopheak, an under-secretary of state of the MoC, said that under the new partnership, China will provide the guidance and assistance the kingdom needs to direct the sector in the right direction.
“As the draft law on e-commerce awaits approval at the Cabinet, this MoU is important to provide capacity building on e-commerce,” Mr Sopheak said. “The agreement empowers us to be able to control the development of the sector.”
Mr Sopheak said the MoU will bolster the sector, which will eventually attract some of the major international e-commerce players to the Cambodian market.
He added that some of those major players, including Alibaba, have already expressed an interest in the Cambodian market.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Mr Wang said China is ideally placed to help the kingdom on e-commerce matters due to the fact that it already hosts an important number of companies that are international leaders in the sector, including online shopping mammoth Alibaba.
“The MoU will encourage private companies to cooperate with each other and strengthen bilateral trade cooperation between China and Cambodia.”
According to an official statement released by the MoC, the agreement is an important component of the government’s “rectangular strategy” and a component of China’s One Belt One Road Initiative.
“The two sides will explore all aspects of e-commerce cooperation, such as a joint study, capacity building programmes, technical assistance and regulatory frameworks and sharing experience on e-government policy and management by governments,” the statement said.
“Both sides will encourage enterprises to cooperate on e-commerce, including boosting trade in individual products from both countries through e-commerce.
“Both sides will support e-commerce cooperation activities through business experience exchange, training and capacity building and exchanging new best practices and innovations.
“In order to improve the e-commerce sector, Cambodia will be preparing to set up an e-commerce strategy, telecommunications infrastructure, e-commerce facilitation, Online Payment Gateway and human resources on the sector,” the press release added.
Cambodia’s e-commerce draft law is now being discussed at the Cabinet and is expected to be passed next year, Mr Sopheak said.
The draft law now has 12 chapters divided into 90 articles. It covers a wide range of topics, from credit and debit card usage to the use of online signatures to purchase goods over the internet.
It incorporates rules and codes of conduct for trading companies to ensure the security of consumers when making online payments.
Other related laws, such as the Cyber-Crime Law and the Telecom Law, are still lacking a formal draft, but they are being discussed at ministry level, Mr Sopheak said.
Total trade volume between Cambodia and China in 2016 was worth about $4.7 billion, about 7.3 percent higher than in 2015.
The trade volume between the two countries has already exceeded $5 billion since the beginning of 2017, well in excess of estimates by leaders of both countries, according to Mr Sithorn.
“After this MoU, the trade volume between our countries would rise even more and reach $6 billion by 2020,” he said.