The World Trade Organisation today will conclude its first-ever review of Cambodia’s trade policies and practices and issue its concluding remarks.
The trade review, which began on November 1, is the first time the Kingdom, which was the first least-developed country to fully accede to the WTO in 2004, will involve WTO state members examining the trade climate here.
The WTO Secretariat report compiled for the review notes that international trade is the “driving force behind much of Cambodia’s recent economic growth”.
“[Cambodia’s] economic and social achievements between 1998 and 2007 were particularly impressive: real GDP growth averaged close to 10 per cent, the highest of any low-income country in Asia.”
“Cambodia remains heavily dependent on exports of garments to the United States and the European Union, its main export markets,” the report said, as the garment industry accounts for two-thirds of the manufacturing sector and 80 per cent of Cambodia’s export revenue.
The garment sector in Cambodia has been plagued by a series of labour and health issues including union worker discrimination and mass faintings over the past year. Trade partners have yet to take any affirmative action on the human-rights abuse allegations from rights groups in the Kingdom.
“Historically, improving labour standards and working conditions have generally helped garments exporters to maintain export contracts and stave off the competitive threat from other low-cost manufacturers in the region,” the WTO report said.
“However, the outlook for Cambodian garment exports is clouded by structural changes in the market and to lagging competitiveness.”