The British Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam on February 18 pledged to give her all to mobilise British investors and businessmen to analyse and maximise investment and trade potential and advantages in Cambodia and reap the full benefits of the ASEAN country’s preferential trade tariffs.
Heather Wheeler, who is also Conservative member of Parliament (MP) for South Derbyshire district, made the remark at a discussion meeting with Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak held via video link.
Cambodia was among 46 other least developed countries to be granted preferential trade status under the UK’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), according to the UK Department for International Trade on December 17.
The UK was historically one of Cambodia’s largest importers in the EU, accounting for about 25 to 30 per cent of total exports to the bloc, Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) secretary-general Ken Loo told The Post on December 25.
At the meeting, Wheeler lauded the Kingdom’s recent progress, annual economic growth and export potential, while praising the government for its efforts in smoothening the process for the operations of British businesspeople and investors.
“I will continue to strive to attract British investors to study more about the potential that Cambodia is currently achieving,” she said.
Wheeler noted the shock Covid-19 had on the garment and textile sector, which she emphasised is an important pillar of the Cambodian economy and informed the minister about the Accelerated COVID Economic Support (ACES) project supported by the British government for ASEAN countries.
Sorasak acclaimed the UK’s considerable contributions to the Cambodian economy and human resource development via financing for the expansion of priority sectors – especially education, economy and trade – and the provision of trade preferences that came into effect last month as the Brexit transition period ended.
He said the government “has made great efforts to reform institutions and regulations for economic integration and has shown a strong will to expand trade partnerships through the establishment of free trade agreements with major trading partners in the region”.
He also expressed support for the progress of the UK-ASEAN Dialogue Partnership, a region of great potential, and informed the British side that Cambodia would host the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) this year and chair the upcoming 40th ASEAN Summit next year.
Bilateral trade between Cambodia and the UK in the first 11 months of last year was worth $813.22 million, down by 17.61 per cent from the $987.09 million logged in the same period in 2019, the Ministry of Economy and Finance reported.
Cambodia exported $766.77 million worth of merchandise during the period, down 16.02 per cent year-on-year from $913.01 million, and imported $46.45 million, down 37.30 per cent year-on-year from $74.08 million.
The ministry said most of Cambodia’s exports to the UK were garment, footwear, bicycles, milled rice and agricultural products, while automobiles and machinery comprised the bulk of imports.