Cambodia has organised for 18 companies to take part in the 18th China-ASEAN Expo, held in Nanning city of China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

The trade fair was scheduled to be held virtually and in-person for four days from September 10-13 at the Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The ministry said seven of the companies would attend the expo in-person and 11 virtually, with a total of 53 booths.

It added that Cambodia’s 81sqm exhibition area had been fashioned into a Khmer-style “common house” to showcase local products and feature images related to the economy, trade, investment and tourism to share with others at the event.

On display at the Kingdom’s booths are beverages and agricultural products such as milled rice, peppercorn, cashew nuts, dried mango and other dehydrated foods, as well as a selection of projects designed to entice investors, the ministry added.

Spotlighting China as a major market for Southeast Asian exports, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng stressed that the Kingdom, like other ASEAN member countries, has a golden opportunity to present its best at the event.

While the expo will surely benefit the participating companies, the entire nation stands to reap windfall from the event, he argued, predicting a post-Covid rise in Chinese visitors to the Kingdom.

He told The Post that the firms “have brought our national products to display and allure foreign investors, as well as Chinese tourists to Cambodia”.

Prime Minister Hun Sen delivered a speech in a pre-recorded video that was broadcast at the opening ceremony of the expo.

He said the event “certainly bears testimony to the great success of China-ASEAN dialogue relations, which have brought about development in all fields, and prosperity” to the 11 countries and their peoples.

The prime minister urged the countries to continue to promote cooperation in all sectors, especially finance and trade, further widen market access and facilitate free trade and investment flows, as a means to accelerate socio-economic recovery in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis.

“[This] would enable Cambodia and other countries in the region to promote exports of commodities with potential and raise more financial resources,” Hun Sen said.

“Going forward, I am of the view that China and ASEAN must continue to work together in the fight against Covid-19, and overcome the pandemic to better support socio-economic activities and people’s livelihoods.

“The battle against this global pandemic requires solidarity, trust, joint planning as well as action in a prudent manner, via a mechanism that underpins multilateralism and ensures respect for international law and the sovereignty of each country,” Hun Sen said.

Ministry data show that bilateral trade between Cambodia and China amounted to $8.11807 billion in 2020, falling by 5.2 per cent from 2019. Of that, the Kingdom’s exports were to the tune of $1.08626 billion, up by 8.11 per cent, as imports reached $7.03181 billion, down by 6.97 per cent.

These numbers indicate that Cambodia’s trade deficit with China narrowed by just under 9.3 per cent from over $6.55 billion to nearly $5.946 billion last year.

Over the past 30 years, ASEAN-China trade relations and economic cooperation have continued to flourish, and that China has been ASEAN’s largest trading partner since 2009, according to Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak.

The total merchandise trade between ASEAN and China stood at $507.9 billion in 2019 and foreign direct investment (FDI) flows from China to the bloc clocked in at $8.97 billion, ASEAN figures show.