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Tensions cause drop in ASEAN imports

Tensions cause drop in ASEAN imports

Tensions with Thailand led to a 10-percent decline in imports from ASEAN members during the first six months of 2011, though Cambodia’s exports to the bloc nearly doubled, according to officials.

Cambodia imported US$810.9 million during the six-month period compared to $904.9 million during the period 2010, or a decline of 10.4 percent. Total exports between January and June reached US$121.9 million compared to $61.1 million in the first six months of 2010 for an increase of 99.5 percent.

“We exported a lot of raw agricultural products this year because the industry continues to develop,” said Kong Putheara, director of the Statistics Department at the Ministry of Commerce, adding agricultural goods made up the bulk of the Kingdom’s exports to members of ASEAN.

He said Cambodia trades mostly with neighbours Vietnam and Thailand. As a result, the border conflict with Thailand this year caused the drop in imports for the period.

Chea Socheat, chief of the Bureau of ASEAN and Economic Integration at the Ministry of Commerce, cited the reduction of import duties last year by member states as reasons for the export gains.

“I think the tax liberalisation helps to boost trade exchange among the members. Now demand is rising, so we will have even more exchange,” he said.

He also said the coming implementation of the ASEAN Single Window initiative, which streamlines import-export data exchange between member countries, should add to regional trade.

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