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South Africa aims to narrow trade gap

South Africa aims to narrow trade gap

SOUTH Africa's ambassador to Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, Douglas Gibson, is in Phnom Penh on a mission to boost exports and to balance the country's trade deficit with Cambodia, he told the Post on Monday.

Bilateral trade is a small US$2.1 million, with Cambodia exporting about $1.7 million worth of goods to South Africa in 2009, 98 percent of which are textiles.

Cambodia imports about $463,000 from South Africa, 65 percent of which are vegetables, according to South African government figures.

"South Africa means business, and we want to do business in Cambodia," said Douglas Gibson, who is based in Bangkok.

South Africa is running a large global trade deficit of $10.9 billion and a current accounts deficit of $23 billion, The Economist figures show, which the government hopes to reduce, said the ambassador. South Africa is a leading producer of high-quality wines and agricultural goods, which the ambassador says could be in high demand in Cambodia.

"We are a major agricultural country - for example, our apples are some of the best in the world ... we also have a 350-year old wine industry," said Gibson on Monday. "We aren't here to reduce [Cambodian] exports, but to increase overall trade," he said.

The ambassador said that his country has no plans to set up an embassy in Cambodia, and that a high-level visit would have to be considered after the country's elections scheduled for April 22.

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