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Agriculture Cooperation Deepening, Cambodia Pushes for Broader China Market Access

August 25, 2022

Cambodian officials are continuing their efforts to increase the country’s agricultural exports to China through investment, strategic cooperation and market access for new products. According to recent media reports, officials from the Cambodian and Chinese agriculture ministries are jointly drawing up a master plan for the development of Cambodia’s agricultural sector. Cambodia also continues to push for China to hasten opening its market to more Cambodian agricultural products.

An Aug. 18 meeting in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh brought together Veng Sakhon, the Cambodian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Zhang Lubiao, director of the Foreign Economic Cooperation Center of China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Zhang said that his visit was aimed at strengthening and expanding agricultural cooperation between China and Cambodia, especially harnessing Chinese expertise to help Cambodia formulate an overall plan for agricultural development and modernization.

“The preparation of the master plan is very important, but so is the implementation mechanism, which involves the mobilisation and utilisation of resources, human resources and budget resources between the national and grassroots level,” Zhang was quoted as saying by the Phnom Penh Post. “At the same time, it is necessary to monitor, review and evaluate the results of implementation.”

Sakhon praised the accomplishments that Cambodia and China have already made on agricultural trade and expressed his gratitude for Chinese support before commenting on China market access for Cambodian products. He mentioned that fresh Cambodian longans will soon be exported to China before adding that he hoped China could speed up the process of negotiating the phytosanitary protocols necessary for the direct export to China of fresh durians, edible bird’s nests and fresh peppers from Cambodia.

According to Sakhon, efforts to jointly develop with China a master plan for the modernization of Cambodia’s agricultural sector date back to 2018, but these were derailed by COVID-19.

Now, with progress back on track, the first group of experts brought in by China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has arrived in Phnom Penh. This group will carry out a two-month study of the Cambodian agricultural sector in various provinces. Once the final plan has been drawn up, Cambodia will execute the resulting policies with financial support from China, according to Sakhon.

Cambodia’s agricultural production is generally fragmented, with many smallholder farmers. The country also has relatively underdeveloped transport, logistics and cold-chain systems. The modernization plan will focus on products that have been identified as having high potential, such as rice, corn, rubber, cassava, bananas, mangos, cashews, meat and aquaculture products. It is focused on steps such as implementing modern agricultural practices, raising quality and food safety standards, and increasing processing and packaging capacity.

Although these measures will likely benefit the Cambodian agriculture sector in the long term, they are also expected to be a prerequisite for increasing exports to China in the short-to-medium term because Chinese quality, safety and phytosanitary requirements for imported products are generally much higher than those of Cambodia’s domestic market.

Image: The Cambodia China Times

This article was translated from Chinese. Read the original article.

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