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Trade hurt by political and labour turbulence

Trade hurt by political and labour turbulence

Cambodian trade reached a total of $15.9 billion in 2013, equaling an 18 per cent rise from 2012, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Exports were valued at $6.9 billion, up from $5.5 billion a year earlier, with garment and textiles accounting for more than 80 per cent of the whole. The US remained Cambodia’s biggest single customer, claiming about 37 per cent of the yearly total.

Meanwhile, Cambodian spending on imports such as petrol, vehicles and construction materials topped exports, increasing from $7.9 billion in 2012 to $9 billion in 2013.

Mey Kalyan, senior adviser to the Supreme National Economic Council, commended Cambodian industries for well-deserved results, but said progress was hampered by political turbulence and later by garment sector industrial action. After July, the opposition party demonstrated on and off for months to protest the results, until crackdowns earlier this month led to a banning of protests.

Violent garment sector strikes at factories towards the end of the year led to the shooting deaths of at least five people, while one person was shot and killed amid opposition protests not long after the election.

“A 26 per cent increase on exports is a good result, but still there were difficulties and we should have done better. There was undoubtedly a negative impact on industry,” he said.

The senior adviser also cautioned the government to keep a close eye on the widening gap between imports and exports.

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