12 Mar 2019
Exports to the United States, the world’s largest economy, increased by 25 percent last year, a significant increase in trade that comes despite a deteriorating diplomatic relation after Cambodia dissolved the main opposition party ahead of last year’s general elections.
Data from the US trade office showed that total exports to the United States reached $3.82 billion, up from $3.06 billion in 2017.
US exports to the Kingdom, meanwhile, amounted to $446.6 million in 2018, an 11 percent increase over 2017’s $400.2 million.
Long Kemvichet, spokesman at the Ministry of Commerce, told Khmer Times that the Kingdom’s access to the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for travel goods was the main contributor to the growth in exports to the US.
In July 2016, Cambodia was granted duty-free benefits for exports of travel goods like luggage, backpacks, handbags, and wallets to the United States under the GSP scheme.
Mr Kemvichet said they are lobbying the US government to expand Cambodia’s GSP privileges.
“The ministry has already submitted petitions to the US to expand the GSP scheme to garments and footwear. If these petitions are successful Cambodia will enjoy many opportunities to expand exports,” Mr Kemvichet said.
However, Mr Kemvichet also highlighted the need to prepare the manufacturing and export industries to compete without trade privileges.
“We need to strengthen productivity and trade competitiveness so that we can compete with other export countries regardless whether we have preferential treatment or not,” he said.
The diplomatic ties between Cambodia and the United States have been under strain after the main opposition party was dissolved by the Supreme Court in November 2017, with the US government imposing visa restrictions on some Cambodian government officials.