China Ranks the Largest Agriculture Trading Partner 

Photo: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

PHNOM PENH – China has become the largest trading partner in agriculture, following the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) signed in January of 2022, a top Chinese provincial official says.

Cambodia has a diversity of agricultural resources and agricultural exports to China rose remarkably after the agreement, Chen Jin, chairman of Jiangsu Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said.

Jin was speaking on May 13 at a meeting with Preah Sihanouk provincial council head Vong Phanat. 

In 2022, the value of agricultural products between the countries reached $760 million, up 13 percent on 2021.

Jin said Jiangsu province has been recognized as a source of rice and fish, and the province is also the import entrance for major agricultural products from Cambodia. 

Last year, agricultural trade between Jiangsu province and Cambodia reached $36 million.

Meanwhile, more Cambodian agricultural products were given the green light for export to China. One of these was fresh coconuts, to be exported for the first time this year, though no date was provided. 

Cambodia also exported more than two tonnes of locust lobsters to China early this year. The first export included only 45 kilograms in September last year.

Last month, Cambodia, through local company Sela Pepper Cambodia, exported 30 tonnes of black pepper to China for the first time, following the company’s mission to put the pepper on the e-commerce website Alibaba in early 2023.

Hong Vannak, an economic researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the trade in agriculture between both countries was increasing remarkably. 

He thought it was a positive sign for the sector that China is directly importing from Cambodia for consumption and processing, including for export to China’s partners. 

“The increase in agricultural exports to China was not a coincidence, but an agreement between the two countries based on not only the CCFTA but also other agreements, including RCEP and the Diamond Cooperation Framework,” he said.

The economist considers China as an indispensable trading partner for Cambodia because the mutual benefits are from more than agriculture. Others include investments, economy, financial assistance, loans and grants. 

“China is recognized as the world’s factory due to its vast market for the global exports and imports of regional and other countries, including Cambodia,” he added. 

“The increase of trade shows an optimistic result of agreements and boosts the exports agricultural products, especially when there have been more demands from China.” 

With the current momentum, Chinese investments in exporting Cambodian agricultural products will keep increasing, making a big impact for the sector, he said. 

From January to April, trade with China reached $4.48 billion, increasing by 15.1 percent compared to the same period last year. Both imports and exports increased. 

In 2023, Cambodia’s international trade was worth $46.8 billion with $22.64 billion in exports and imports of $24.18 million. The trade with China was worth $12.26 billion, up by five percent on 2022. 

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