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Request to US to drop duties hits opposition

Request to US to drop duties hits opposition

A Cambodian delegation in Washington seeking duty-free access to the US market for the country’s garment exports has met stiff resistance from 45 trade associations representing 29 garment-producing countries.

The groups, which include major exporters from North and South America, Africa and the Middle East, sent a letter to the house of representatives’ ways and means committee Tuesday urging it not to consider a proposal to extend duty-free status to apparel imports from Bangladesh and Cambodia as it held a hearing on trade preference reform.

The countries depend on existing trade preferences and free-trade agreements for over US$30 billion in two-way trade and nearly 2 million jobs, according to a statement issued by the group.

The group includes nine least-developed countries as well as the powerful US National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO).

A delegation led by Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh and featuring representatives from the Garment Manufacturers’ Association of Cambodia and unions planned to ask the US to drop duties at a conference marking the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Bilateral Textile Agreement between the two countries today. The agreement links trade access to labour standards.

Cambodia’s garment exports fell 21.66 percent over the first nine months of the year to $1.78 billion. Exports to the US, which accounts for around 62 percent of the total, dropped 28.77 percent to $1.12 billion over the period.

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