Exports to the US continued to trend in positive territory during the first nine months of this year, a sign that one economist took as optimistic for overall trade with the Kingdom’s single largest trading partner despite the bilateral strain on relations and Cambodia’s deteriorating political climate.
The latest US government census trade data show Cambodian exports to the US from January through September totalled $2.28 billion, an increase of 5.6 percent compared to the same period in 2016 when it amounted to $2.16 billion.
Mey Kalyan, senior adviser to the Supreme National Economic Council (SNEC), said that maintaining a near 6 percent growth for exports to the US should be viewed as a positive accomplishment for the Kingdom despite ongoing uncertainties.
“Our political relationship with the US is really not that good right now, and it has made some worry that it could affect our trade relations,” he said. “These export growth figures show that there have been no negative impacts yet.”
He speculated that the increase of exports to the US was due to stable growth of the US economy which is being driven by higher consumer demand. While garment and footwear products remain Cambodia’s main exports to the US, they have been slowly declining as a percentage share over the last couple years.
However, Kalyan added that an amendment to the US Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), which went into effect in July 2016 and removed US customs tariffs on Cambodian-made travel products, could help enlarge the overall value of exports.
Kaing Monika, secretary-general of Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), told The Post recently that the revised GSP programme had effectively doubled the size of travel goods exports in little over a year.
According to US trade data, Cambodia imported a total value of $285.7 million worth of goods from the US during the first nine months of this year, a slight increase from $278.6 million compared to the same period last year.