PHNOM PENH — The free trade agreement between Cambodia and China will provide greater market access to Cambodian products and bring more benefits to the two peoples, the Cambodian Commerce Ministry said on Monday after the two sides wrapped up trade talks.

“The successful conclusion of the negotiations for the FTA in a short time has clearly reflected the commitment of the two countries’ leaders to building closer ties, and this FTA will provide a lot of socio-economic benefits to the two peoples,” the ministry said in a press release.

According to a joint statement, Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan and his Cambodian counterpart Pan Sorasak officially announced the conclusion of the China-Cambodia FTA negotiations via a video conference on Monday, and the deal is expected to be signed within this year.

Seang Thay, secretary of state and spokesman for Cambodia’s Commerce Ministry, told Xinhua that the Southeast Asian nation saw China as a huge market, especially for its agricultural products such as rice, cassavas, bananas and mangoes, among others.

“Once signed, the deal will give us greater market access, and definitely, trade and investment volume between the two countries will be further expanded,” he said, noting that the agreement “will importantly contribute to building a community of shared future for Cambodia and China.”

Two-way trade between the two countries stood at 9.42 billion U.S. dollars in 2019, according to the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia.

The two countries began to discuss the feasibility of a bilateral FTA in December 2019 and launched the first round of negotiations in January this year. (Xinhua)