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US-Cambodia trade rises by nearly 40% in 2019

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Garment workers worked at a factory in Phnom Penh. Post Pix

US-Cambodia trade rises by nearly 40% in 2019

Trade between Cambodia and the US rose by 38 per cent last year, totalling $5.4 billion.

Trade between the countries hit $5.446 billion – up from $3.935 billion from the same period in 2018, a report from the US Census Bureau said.

The report noted that exports from the Kingdom to the US rose by 40 per cent, hitting $4.9 million, while US exports to Cambodia hit $484 million, up by 20 per cent.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng said the improvement of diplomatic relations led to the increased trade.

He noted the Kingdom’s access to the US’ Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) remains key to strong trade between the nations.

“The US is Cambodia’s key strategic market, so if we can maintain this favourable position, trade will certainly grow for a long time. The US is Cambodia’s largest export market,” he said.

The Kingdom’s exports to the US have continued to grow since travel goods – including handbags, backpacks and luggage – were granted duty-free status under the Generalised System of Preferences in July 2016.

According to National Bank of Cambodia, the US is the largest market for Cambodian exports, with it accounting for 29 per cent of the $10.9 billion of goods exported over the first nine months of last year.

Hong Vannak, a researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, warned the rising trade volume could take a hit if the Kingdom’s access to the GSP is revoked, a move currently being mulled by the US as it reviews the rights situation in the country.

To counter this possibility, he said new trade partners must be sought and relations with current ones expanded.

“Diversification of new markets is still an important task that Cambodia has to work on as more markets will stabilise Cambodia’s exports,” he said.

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