Cambodians get better income as more mangoes enter Chinese market

Workers make dried mangoes at the Cam MJ Industrial Park in Kampong Speu province, Cambodia, Nov. 12, 2020. Photo by Zhang Zhao/Xinhua

KAMPONG SPEU, Cambodia -- Lay Mengleang, a mango slicer at the Zhong Bao (Cambodia) Food Science & Technology Co., Ltd. here enjoyed a better pay after the factory has received a significant rise in purchase orders from China.

Mengleang, who has worked at the factory for three years, has noticed the rise in purchase orders from China since 2022, the year that both the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade pact and the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) entered into force.

The 21-year-old female worker said in the first two years, she earned a monthly wage of about 200 U.S. dollars only because there was not much work to do, but after entering the third year in 2022, she made a monthly salary of around 350 U.S. dollars because the increasing workload required her to work overtime.

"I'm happy to see more Cambodian mangoes to be exported to China," she told Xinhua on Tuesday. "Chinese consumers' support for our mangoes has directly benefited our workers and farmers."

Mengleang said that with a better wage, she could afford to save roughly 180 U.S. dollars a month.

"China's support for our agricultural products has not only helped boost our economy, but also contributed to improving the livelihoods of our workers and farmers," she said.

Hean Vily, a 21-year-old mango quality controller at the mango products factory, said that he likes his job as it is easy to do and earns a good income.

"With overtime work, I make between 300 and almost 400 U.S. dollars per month," he told Xinhua. "It's good that Chinese consumers help buy Cambodian products because their purchase has created jobs for Cambodian people, reducing migration for jobs outside the country."

Reth Songheng, chief administrative officer of the Zhong Bao (Cambodia) Food Science & Technology Co., Ltd., said the mango products factory provides jobs for more than 800 locals, producing dried mangoes for the Chinese market.

"Our products are high in quality and are very popular in China," he told Xinhua, adding that the factory purchased high-quality ripe mangoes from brokers and farmers for processing them into dried mangoes.

Songheng said the factory exported a total of 2,800 tons of dried mangoes to China in 2022, a year-on-year increase of between 10 and 20 percent.

"For 2023, the factory has planned to produce a total of 4,200 tons because there is a sharp increase in purchase orders from Chinese buyers," he said.

Songheng attributed the export growth to the RCEP and the CCFTA, saying that both FTAs helped reduce tariff costs, giving the factory a greater possibility to expand its production to meet the demand in the Chinese market.

"These FTAs, I think, will give a boost to Cambodia-China economic cooperation," he said.

Cambodian Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Dith Tina said Cambodia and China have solid agricultural cooperation and that Cambodia has exported rice, mangoes, bananas, and longan fruit, among others to China.

He noted the RCEP and the CCFTA have injected a new impetus into the development of Cambodia's agriculture.

"Both FTAs will contribute not only to the agriculture sector's growth, but also to the farmers' welfare and prosperity," he told Xinhua.

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