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China’s Belt and Road initiative a big help: official

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China is the third largest export market for Cambodia, accounting for eight per cent of the Kingdom’s total export in 2021. Heng Chivoan

China’s Belt and Road initiative a big help: official

Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has boosted Cambodia’s inbound trade, tourism and investment from China in the nearly nine years since its unveiling, according to the Chinese embassy in Phnom Penh.

The embassy said in a June 14 statement that the BRI has fostered transformation and development in three key areas, namely bilateral trade, the tourism sector and Cambodian infrastructure.

Ministry of Commerce undersecretary of state and spokesman Penn Sovicheat remarked that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s BRI was a restoration of the ancient commercial network later known as the Silk Road, and would be of “great benefit” to Cambodia.

As an example, he told The Post that new infrastructure created under the BRI umbrella has enabled Cambodia to improve its economic links to Europe.

“A concrete upside we can clearly see is the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, a perfect example of win-win cooperation under the initiative. The progress of infrastructure of Cambodia’s major ports has been achieved in line with the ‘Belt and Road’ concept,” Sovicheat said.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng agreed, saying that the Kingdom’s participation in the BRI has accelerated development, especially on the transport infrastructure front, and led to a steady expansion in bilateral trade.

“The [initiative’s] implementation will benefit and accelerate the growth of the Cambodian economy, the ‘Belt and Road’ strategy will connect Cambodia with our neighbours in Southeast Asia, especially Cambodia to Vietnam, Vietnam to China, and others in this strategic grouping,” he said.

At end-2021, the Council for the Development and both commerce ministries set up a working group on Sino-Cambodian investment and economic cooperation geared towards supporting the BRI and bilateral relations in trade and related areas.

Trade between the two countries topped $4.990 billion in January-May, representing a more than 26 per cent increase year-on-year, according to General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia.

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