Cambodia’s Bilateral Trade With The US Last Year Around $3 Billion

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Mom Rady, a Democratic member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives (left), and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn speak during a meeting. KHMER TIMES / CHOR SOKUNTHEA

The trade volume between Cambodia and the United States reached around $3 billion in 2016, while nearly 240,000 American tourists visited the Kingdom, according to government officials.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Chum Sounry told reporters yesterday after a meeting between Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn and Mom Rady, a Democratic member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, that Cambodia saw an increase in the number of visitors from the US last year. “The trade volume between the two countries reached about $3 billion,” he added.

Rady said Cambodia had made remarkable progress, especially in security and infrastructure. According to the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), US injections of capital into Cambodia ballooned from about $7.5 million in 2015 to almost $122 million in 2016.

Ministry of Commerce spokeswoman Soeng Sophary told Khmer Times recently that the increase in investment from the US was due to Cambodia’s Industrial Development Policy, which she said provided more support for investors and built trust with them. She said the US has an American Chamber of Commerce office in Phnom Penh and had organised last month’s 2017 Cambodia International Business Summit.

“Investment from the US is increasing year-on-year since they learned that the demand for the ASEAN Economic Community will grow and is in need of supply. So this could push investment from other countries, as well as America, to Cambodia,” she added.

Sophary said that having an investment treaty between the two countries will build confidence in US investors. Cambodia’s total exports to the US declined last year compared with 2015, due to what the government says were uncertainties related to the US presidential race and rising exports from Vietnam as well as Myanmar.

According to figures from the Office of the US Trade Representative, total exports from Cambodia to the US were more than $2.8 billion last year compared with more than $3 billion in 2015 – a decline of about seven percent.

Last July, Cambodia was granted duty-free benefits for exports of travel goods like luggage, backpacks, handbags and wallets to the United States under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) for Least Developed Countries.

US Ambassador to Cambodia William Heidt said that this was the largest expansion for Cambodian products into the US market in 20 years since both the United States and Cambodia started trading bilaterally in 1995.

In mid-September a two-day roadshow to Hong Kong was organised jointly by the Ministry of Commerce, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, the CDC, and the US embassy in Phnom Penh to attract investors to set up travel goods factories in Cambodia.

The Ambassador told reporters at a press briefing, after returning from Hong Kong, that travel goods manufacturers on the island were lured by Cambodia’s duty-free GSP status and interested to move to Cambodia due to rising labor costs in mainland China.

“Many companies in China that manufacture backpacks and suitcases are looking for opportunities to move out of the mainland. It is getting more expensive to manufacture [travel goods] in China, and coupled with that rents are also higher on the mainland,” said Heidt.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.