In his words, the agreement could be a boost for Cambodia, which last year suspended some of its particular trade preferences with the European Union, a key market for its exports, because of human rights. The agreement, for which talks began at the end of last year, covers sectors such as trade, tourism and agriculture, where both countries will reduce tariffs on their products. No details were given on the agreement and it was not immediately clear how it would work with the existing trade agreements between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which Cambodia is a member. “The signing of the agreement means even closer relations between the two countries and marks another important historical milestone for Cambodia-China relations,” Cambodian Trade Minister Pan Sorasak said at the ceremony. It is also an important step in bilateral economic and trade relations and should foster the development of bilateral relations at a new level and bring more benefits to businesses and people in China and Cambodia. The agreement is expected to be ratified by the governments of both countries by early next year so that it can enter into force as soon as possible. The signing of the agreement implies the entry of the two countries into a new era of a partnership of comprehensive strategic cooperation, which the Sino-Cambodian community is building with a common future, and cooperation for the joint construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road. Trade between the two countries was estimated at more than $7.4 billion in 2018, with China running a trade surplus of more than $6 billion. With the free trade agreement, the two countries want to boost bilateral trade to $10 billion by 2023. China and Cambodia signed a free trade agreement between the two countries on October 5, 2020. The agreement was virtually in place between Cambodian Trade Minister Pan Sorasak and Chinese Trade Minister Zhong Shan. Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and the Chinese State Council and Foreign Minister Wang Yi were also present to attend the signing.
The agreement, which he hoped would enter into force early next year, would “create stronger economic partnerships by increasing market access, liberalization of goods, services and investment,” he said.
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