Phnom Penh (VNA) – Cambodia and China will hold the first official consultation on the feasibility of a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) on December 3 in Beijing, revealed the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh.

“This comes as a special arrangement in light of the friendly relations between China and Cambodia,” the embassy said on a Facebook post.

“The ministries of commerce of the two countries have previously established a contact mechanism at the working level and maintained close communication,” it said.

Sok Sopheak, Secretary of State at the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce, confirmed the beginning of negotiations to Khmer Times.

He pointed out that the only free trade agreement in place with China is at the multilateral level. The existing ASEAN-China FTA, however, is not enough to meet the trade potential between the countries, he said.

Sopheak said that the Cambodia-China FTA is not unusual because this kind of agreement exists between countries such as Indonesia and Japan, the Philippines and Japan and Singapore and Japan.

The deal will give more opportunities and market access between the two countries and beyond what exists in the ASEAN-China FTA, Sopheak said.

Trade between Cambodia and China reached 7.4 billion USD in 2018. Cambodia exported 1.3 billion USD worth of goods to the Chinese market, an increase of 37 percent.The two countries aim to reach 10 billion USD in trade a year by 2023./.