Countries sign $62 million in trade deals before president makes his first state visit
China is prepared to expand its imports from Cambodia and enlarge trade, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday, ahead of his state visit to the Southeast Asian country.
The president’s remarks came as companies from the two countries signed eight trade deals valued at $62 million on Tuesday in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. The Chinese companies, led by the Ministry of Commerce, agreed to buy such Cambodian products as cassava starch and granite materials.
Xi authored an article in Cambodia’s largest daily newspaper, Rasmei Kampuchea, or Light of Cambodia, calling the country a devoted friend and brotherlike neighbor.
“I am full of expectation on my first visit to Cambodia as China’s president,” Xi wrote.
China will firmly support Cambodia in maintaining domestic stability and speeding up economic development, Xi said.
According to the Foreign Ministry, Xi will make state visits to Cambodia and Bangladesh on Thursday and Friday, and will then fly to Goa, India, to attend the Eighth BRICS Summit over the weekend. BRICS stands for emerging powerhouses Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
Xi’s Cambodia trip reciprocates the visit to Beijing by King Norodom Sihamoni in June, during which they agreed to further the comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership between their countries.
During his stay, Xi is scheduled to meet with the king, have talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen and witness the signing of deals to boost cooperation in areas such as trade, investment and tourism.
China has been the biggest trade partner and investment source for Cambodia for three consecutive years, and bilateral trade reached $4.4 billion last year.
Jiang Jingkui, director of the Center of South Asian Studies at Peking University, said that the economies of China and Cambodia are highly complementary, and there is great potential for developing bilateral trade.
China is adjusting its economic structure, with some Chinese companies moving their factories to lower-cost Cambodia and Bangladesh, which could tighten economic links, he said.
Xiong Bo, China’s ambassador to Cambodia, said that as an important hub of transport in Southeast Asia, Cambodia held a key position on the ancient maritime Silk Road connecting East and West.
The two countries will sign agreements implementing the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative during Xi’s visit, he said. The initiative, comprising the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was put forward by Xi in 2013 with a focus on infrastructure.
China and Cambodia are building the Sihanoukville special economic zone in southwestern Cambodia as an example of collaboration under the initiative.
Cambodia also voiced support for China’s stance on the South China Sea issue in July after the ruling in an arbitration case unilaterally launched by former Philippine president Benigno Aquino III.