Vietnam agreed yesterday to waive all duties on a total of 300,000 tons of rice and 3,000 tons of dried tobacco exported annually from Cambodia to the country, according to a bilateral agreement signed at two back-to-back summits to promote economic cooperation in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.
The bilateral trade enhancement agreement between Vietnam and Cambodia, signed in Hanoi by Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak and the Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh at the 7th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy Summit (ACMECS 7) and the 8th Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam Cooperation Summit (CLMV 8), also gives special preferential treatment to 39 export items from Cambodia and 29 items from Vietnam.
Soeng Sophary, spokesperson at Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce, told Khmer Times yesterday that the bilateral agreement between Cambodia and Vietnam had been signed several years ago, but had expired recently.
“So both parties took advantage of these summits to renew it, and at the same time add new items that would be given tariff-free status by two countries,” said Ms. Sophary.
Ms. Sophary, however, clarified that this was the first agreement between Cambodia and Vietnam that included Cambodian rice exports to the neighboring country.
“These rice exports will have to pass through customs checkpoints at the border to crackdown on smuggling and ‘unofficial exports’,” she said.
Ms. Sophary stressed that since Vietnam is one of the leading rice producers in the Mekong region, Cambodia was not expected to export too much rice to its neighbor. However, she said, the agreement was more focused on strengthening diplomatic ties through trade.
“The bilateral agreement has also paved the way for the private sector to be greater involved in trade between Cambodia and Vietnam,” she said.
“Vietnam may not have premium rice like Cambodia, so somehow they need those kinds of premium rice. This is where the private sector can fill in the gap.”
According to the Viet Nam News’ website, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc addressed the opening of the summits.
He reportedly said the CLMV and ACMECS have contributed to important achievements, such as promoting the socio-economic development of each country, helping with the establishment of the Asean Community and aiding peace and stability in the region.
“We are presented with excellent opportunities for the development of CLMV and ACMECS. At these summits, we will discuss new landscapes and together work out ways and means to build dynamic and competitive economies with sustainable and inclusive growth,” Mr. Xuan Phuc was quoted as saying by Viet Nam News.