Cambodia Wants Bulk Agro Negotiation With China

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Cambodia urged China to consider a package deal in negotiations on sensitive sanitary and phytosanitary issues regarding exports of agricultural products to Beijing, said Ho Sivyong, director of Export and Import Department at Ministry of Commerce yesterday.

Cambodian farmers working in the field. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Mr Sivyong said with this proposal, negotiators will be able to discuss a regulatory framework that will accelerate local exports of agricultural products to China.

He said sanitary and phytosanitary protocols are new barriers preventing Cambodian exports to China after the elimination of tariffs.

Under the offer, the negotiators will be able to decide on the framework on several agricultural products in one go.

Mr Sivyong said negotiations based on the single product method is slowing the process and getting Cambodian agricultural exports to China bogged down with the sanitary barriers despite the fact that the two governments have agreed to beef-up local exports to Beijing.

“We have asked China to approve the package deal, but they have not given us any feedback,” Mr Sivyong said, adding, “If we negotiate on just one kind of agricultural product, the process takes years to complete before Cambodia can be given the green light to increase its exports to China.”

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Cambodia plans to negotiate with China on the shipment of several agricultural products, including mango, longan, durian, dragon fruit, pepper, and coconut.

Hean Vanhan, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, said the negotiation was conducted through a working group composed of officials from the ministries of Commerce and Agriculture.

Mao Mon, a farmer and trader of longan fruit in Palin province, applauded the move, saying it would help accelerate shipments to China.

“Currently I export fruits to Thailand for processing and packaging before re-exporting to China. A direct shipment to China will be beneficial.”

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.