Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon told The Post on Thursday that although Cambodia and China will soon sign a free trade agreement (FTA), meat exports won’t be approved anytime soon because of the strict requirements applied to them.
However, meats are on the list of products to be considered in the FTA.
Sakhon said importing and exporting meat products are notoriously tricky because of a slew of rules governing the process.
He said the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries asked Chinese authorities for permission to export fish to China, but they never responded.
Sakhon said experts from countries approving meat imports typically need to inspect a host of factors before accepting a sale including breeding locations, cleaning methods, slaughter methods, storage and freezing procedures.
In the past, he said cattle were imported from Australia to be raised in Cambodia and exported to the Chinese market. But the programme failed when the Chinese side refused to recognise the standard of the meat.
“Agriculture and meat transportation exports won’t be easy until we contact a Chinese company that wants to invest in Cambodia by bringing technology,” he said.
Chairman of the FTA Negotiation Group with China Sok Sopheak said at a press conference last week that more than 340 types of Cambodian frozen goods will be exported to China, the largest market in the world.
Through the FTA, the two sides will further push to attract Chinese and other foreign investors to set up factories for export to China and other destinations. An emphasis will be placed on investment in animal husbandry.
“We have enough capacity to produce goods for export to China, especially vegetables, fruits, fish, meat [pigs, chickens, ducks, cows and goats],” he said.
Although the government is currently has strived to expand domestic animal husbandry, the country can’t meet its demands for meat.
Director of the Cambodia Livestock Raisers Association Srun Pov said exports could increase in the next two to three years if foreign investment comes in, especially from China.
“Cambodia is a very favourable country for animal husbandry, so through this, I hope that Chinese investors will come to invest in animal husbandry for export to China,” he said.
According to Pov, Cambodia currently imports more than 4,000 pigs a day from neighbouring countries.