Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Thursday that he expects to sign almost 30 deals with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week when the leader makes an*official two-day visit to Cambodia, touching down on Thursday.
“The main issue here is to try to open the Chinese market, which is a large market,” Mr. Hun Sen said at a university graduation ceremony in Phnom Penh. “If there are no changes, at least 28 agreements and protocols will be signed.”
It would be the most agreements signed by the two parties during one visit since Mr. Hun Sen’s trip to China in 2004, he said, though he did not elaborate on the deals. National Police said this week that some 7,000 members of the military and security forces would be deployed for the visit.
The premier said trade with China would rise to $5 billion by next year—from about $4 billion last year—with a particular boost for agricultural exports.
“Agricultural products such as rice and cassava are already exported to Chinese markets, and Cambodia has great ambitions of exporting other agricultural products such as bananas to China too,” Mr. Hun Sen said.
Cambodia has been caught in an agricultural crisis in recent weeks due to plunging rice prices, devastating the incomes of the country’s roughly 2 million rice farmers. Among other measures, the government asked China for $300 million in emergency aid.
The meeting with Mr. Xi comes as the two countries draw ever closer. Cambodia has been called a satellite of China in the Asean region for its successful efforts to block joint statements critical of China’s claims to the South China Sea.
In return, analysts say, China has been increasingly generous with loans and aid money.
In addition to Mr. Xi’s upcoming visit, an envoy from the U.K. will also be arriving this month to renegotiate trade deals in anticipation of the country’s exit from the E.U., Mr. Hun Sen said.
naren@cambodiadaily.com
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