During bilateral talks from January 20-23 last year in Beijing, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang greenlighted a feasibility study on the potential free trade agreement which aims to boost bilateral trade to US$10 billion by 2023.
The first round of negotiations was presided over by Secretary of State of the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce Sok Sopheak and Chinese Assistant Minister of Commerce Ren Hongbin.
Earlier this week, PM Hun Sen encouraged all stakeholders to increase production capacity and expand products in order to boost exports to China before the FTA comes into force.
Late last month, Deputy Secretary General of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia Kaing Monika said the moves towards an FTA come at a crucial time for Cambodia.
It is the right time for Cambodia to start looking at negotiating FTAs with various countries and blocs, he said.
Cambodia is expected to graduate from the UN’s Least Developed Countries status in the next five to six years, after which the country will lose the trade preferences provided by many developed countries, Monika added.
He noted that Cambodia participates in a very limited number of FTAs as compared with other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Cambodia needs to target more bilateral FTAs, and China is indeed the country’s greatest potential partner, he said.