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Cambodian Fruit Exports To China in The Doldrums, Turns To Korea For Investment

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Cambodian fruit exports to China are in the doldrums due to the New Crown epidemic, and the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce has called on Korean companies to invest in setting up processing plants for mangoes, bananas and longans, according to the Phnom Penh Post. 


Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak held a meeting with the Korea Importers Association (KOIMA) on May 3. Minister Pan Sorasak urged companies from the Southeast Asian country to encourage Korean investors to set up agro-processing plants in Cambodia to produce products that meet the standards of Korea and other stringent countries. 


Jang Gyu-hwa, vice president of the Korea Importers Association, noted that the association's nearly 15,000 member companies have been investing in Cambodia and Korea in a number of sectors. Demand for Cambodian mangoes is particularly strong in Korea, and the association aims to import at least 10,000 tonnes of mangoes from Cambodia each year to meet the Korean market demand. 


Hun Lak, head of Rich Farm Asia Ltd, which grows bananas and mangoes and exports them abroad, said the Korean investment would be a good way to diversify Cambodian agriculture as they cannot rely solely on the Chinese market. This year, Cambodia's agricultural products, especially bananas and mangoes, have been affected by the New Crown epidemic, and exports to China have been in the doldrums. Mango prices have plummeted and most exporters have decided to suspend exports. 


Van Righy, head of the export department at Angkor Green Cambodia, said that widening the market was good news for exporters and farmers, but that the Korean market also posed challenges for Cambodian exporters. He stressed that South Korea has strict packaging and sterilisation requirements for imported food and only a few Cambodian mango plantations are currently approved to export to Korea. 


Despite Cambodia's free trade agreement with South Korea, technical barriers and sanitation requirements remain major obstacles, as well as the high cost of obstructed transport, Righy said, adding that the company has never exported mangoes to the Korean market because of the high cost of hot water treatment facilities. 


According to the latest data from the Cambodian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Cambodia's exports of fresh mangoes and mango products fell sharply in the first quarter of this year. from January to March 2022, Cambodia exported 81,418 tonnes of fresh mangoes, down more than 20 per cent year-on-year; 5,136 tonnes of dried mangoes, down 13 per cent; and 403 tonnes of mango pulp, down 75 per cent. 

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