PHNOM PENH, Dec. 1 (FN) -- The largest-ever Cambodia-China business and financial development forum was held here on Thursday to explore ways to further boost economic, trade and investment ties between the two countries.

Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen opened the one-day forum, which some 600 business leaders and high-profile officials to

The forum, the first of its kind in Cambodia, was organized by China's private investment firm, China Minsheng Investment Group (CMIG), and Cambodia's Ly Yong Phat Group (LYP Group). It was held under the theme "Cambodia: The Kingdom of Opportunities Along The 'One Belt One Road'".

"The forum is indeed meaningful as it is in time with the implementation of the Belt and Road initiative, a massive mega-project that attracts attentions and supports from both public and private sectors both in China and the region alike," Hun Sen said.

He added that the forum was a good opportunity for business executives of both countries to meet and explore cooperation possibility.

"I wish to take this opportunity to reiterate that Cambodia will continue to welcome and support all investment projects in Cambodia and will continue to do its level best to strengthen and expand economic cooperation, to maintain openness and to develop industrial sector," said the prime minister.

Meanwhile, he highly valued good relations and cooperation between the two countries in all fields, especially trade, investment, banking and finance, and tourism.

Trade volume between the two countries was valued at 4.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, up 18 percent year-on-year.

On the investment side, China is the largest investor in the Southeast Asian country with cumulative investment of over 14 billion U.S. dollars from 1994 to Oct. 2016, according to the Council for Development of Cambodia.

Hun Sen said in the banking and finance sector, Cambodia has 36 commercial banks and 11 specialized banks, of which two are the Chinese commercial banks and one is Chinese specialized bank with the combined capital of about 223 million U.S. dollars.

The prime minister added in tourism sector, China is the second largest source of tourists to Cambodia with some 700,000 Chinese tourists coming to Cambodia in 2015.

He predicted Chinese tourists will reach 800,000 in 2016, up 14 percent year-on-year.

Meanwhile, Hun Sen also highly treasures the traditional fraternal relations and comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation between Cambodia and China, saying the two countries are true friends and always help each other based on the principle of trust, mutual respect, non-interference, and respect for each other's national and people's interests.

Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Xiong Bo said the forum would contribute to increasing cooperation in economics, trade and investment between Cambodia and China.

He said the cooperation between Chinese and Cambodian enterprises was very important to support the governments of the two countries in their efforts to carry out the Belt and Road initiative.

"I am confident that through this forum, more Chinese enterprises will come to invest in Cambodia," he said.

At the end of the forum, Cambodian conglomerate LYP Group and CMIG is expected to sign a 1.5-billion-U.S.-dollar deal to build a Cambodia-China Friendship City in Phnom Penh's northern suburb.