Cambodia's needs and how they overlap with the UK’s strengths are an important issue in trade and investment relations between the two countries, according to British Ambassador Mark Gooding during a presentation to the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) yesterday.
Bilateral trade is mainly driven by garment exports from Cambodia, but trade will diversify as education, financial services, knowledge and innovation and construction and design are improved with the help of the UK, Gooding told members of the CCC’s delegation in preparation for their first trade visit to the UK next week.
Next week, about 50 members of the CCC will visit the UK “to bring UK companies and Cambodian companies together to share ideas and network”, International Relations Manager of the CCC Keo Nimet said.
According to Keo Nimet, the delegation will present Cambodia’s industrial strengths as well as weaknesses along with the areas that are in need of the greatest amount of investment from UK companies.
The delegation will meet the UK Trade and Investment representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and officials from a number of British companies during their tour.
British companies come to Cambodia because they’re looking for a new market, according to Gooding. Companies are also looking for a new production base where they can set up factories easily to produce locally but export straight to Europe, he said.
The ability to export straight to Europe without tariffs has been a cause for concern due to the issued raised by the “boycott blood sugar” campaign, which is protesting against Cambodia’s duty free sugar exports due to the human and environmental impact the companies who are producing the sugar have.
Gooding said it is “important to look at grievances that have been expressed and seek to address them” and that this has been the UK’s and EU’s consistent message to Cambodia.
He also said since the establishment of the ‘Everything but Arms’ treaty the growth of exports “has been impressive” and that it has created many jobs in Cambodia.
The Ambassador did provide examples of the UK’s strengths though and how they would benefit Cambodia, such as its excellent education system with four of the top 10 universities in the world on its shores to which many young Cambodians aspire to study at supported by British scholarships.
London was also ranked as the No 1 world financial centre in 2011, the UK has been a centre for high tech machinery and innovation, and British engineers built the Vattanac Capital development in Phnom Penh, he continued.
Besides trade and investment relations, the Ambassador also spoke about the components of UK economy, the impact of the global financial crisis and the UK’s response during his presentation in the CCC.
The UK Trade and Investment plans to open an office in the British Embassy of Phnom Penh.
Growing from US$150 million in 2007 to $600 million in 2011, bilateral trade between the two countries have quadrupled in the last four years. The UK, the sixth largest economy in the world, is the second largest exporter of goods and services.
To contact the reporter on this story: Anne Renzenbrink at [email protected]