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Korea trade nears $1 billion

Workers prepare clothing for export at a garment factory in Phnom Penh.
Workers prepare clothing for export at a garment factory in Phnom Penh last month. A new loan from South Korea may encourage Cambodia to diversify its exports. PHA LINA

Korea trade nears $1 billion

BILATERAL trade between Cambodia and South Korea nearly reached the $1 billion dollar realm in 2012, a hike of nearly 100 per cent from the year before, senior officials said yesterday.

The figure was announced after Foreign Minister Hor Namhong and South Korea’s ambassador to Cambodia Kim Han-soo signed an agreement for a new $200 million loan from South Korea to support infrastructure projects.

According to official data from the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, total bilateral trade between the two countries stood at nearly $540 million in 2011.

Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Koung said that Cambodia imported from Korea more than $900 million in 2012, while Cambodia exported upwards of $70 million.

In the past, the Korean Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia has urged the country to diversify its exports to Korea.

The products traditionally sold to South Korea have included rubber, cotton, seafood and some garment wear.

But the country still lags behind the United States, Cambodia’s biggest trade market. Government data show that in the first five months of this year, trade between the two increased 1.6 per cent to $1.2 billion compared with the same period last year.

Cambodia’s imports from South Korea include dyes, worn clothing, cigarettes and parts of the internal combustion engine.

Last year, South Korea replaced Britain as the largest investor in Cambodia, with about $287 million injected, 12.5 per cent of the total foreign direct investment, according to official data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia.

Grouped together, the three main economic powers in Asia, Japan, China and South Korea, were the largest investors in Cambodia during the country’s chairmanship of ASEAN in 2012, with total investment about $762 million. In terms of visitors to Cambodia, Kuong said South Korea is ranked No 2.

The new loan inked yesterday is intended to help fund road development in the provinces, among other projects

Since re-establishing diplomatic ties with Cambodia in 1996, South Korea says that its government has committed $378 million in concessional projects and $105 million of grant assistance.

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