Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Breaking news: US development assistance may be slashed to zero, document

Breaking news: US development assistance may be slashed to zero, document

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
US President Donald Trump speaks alongside Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (R) during a meeting about the federal budget in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, DC, February 22, 2017. SAUL LOEB / AFP

Breaking news: US development assistance may be slashed to zero, document

An apparent US State Department budgetary document shows the body plans to gut foreign aid to Cambodia, completely eliminating all development assistance and slashing health programs funded by the State Department and USAID as well.

The document, obtained and published by Foreign Policy on Monday, shows that development assistance to the Kingdom would be cut to zero in 2018, down from a 2016 real spending level of $34.5 million. Similarly, the Economic Support Fund will see a 100 percent cut from its $8 million in 2016.

While it would not be completely eliminated, the Global Health Program funded by the State Department and USAID would see 18.3 and 37.4 percent cuts by the respective agencies from 2016 levels.

The potential cuts come in the wake of the US President Donald Trump’s March budget proposal that showed a one-third cut to government development assistance to developing countries. However, the budget has a long way to go before being approved by Congress, and the March proposal was met with criticism, even by some of President Trump’s fellow Republicans.

Cambodia is one of 77 countries that would see their development assistance slashed to zero, with the fellow ASEAN states Indonesia, Thailand, Laos and The Philippines seeing similar proposed cuts.

US Embassy spokesman Jay Raman declined to comment on the document.

The cuts are also unlikely to improve ties between the Cambodia and the US, which have entered a rocky phase of late. Multiple high-ranking Cambodian officials have heaped criticism on the US for its bombing of Cambodia in the 1970s and its refusal to forgive war-era debt.

Analysts have suggested that the heated rhetoric indicates a shift away from traditional Western partners and towards China, which has emerged as Cambodia’s main patron in recent years.

The timing of the revelations is also unfortunate, with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southeast Asia Patrick Murphy meeting with officials from the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs today in Phnom Penh.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A segment of the leaked document showing how the Trump administration plans to reduce direct assistance to Cambodia. State Bureau, Operating Unit and Account

MOST VIEWED

  • US imposes sanctions on Oknha Pheap and Kun Kim

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation expressed strong dismay on Monday over the designation of Cambodian tycoon Oknha Try Pheap and General Kun Kim under the US’ Global Magnitsky Act. “It is very disturbing when the public figures of a country become the

  • Mother, daughter killed in hotel fire

    The bodies of a mother and daughter were found locked in an embrace after they were killed in a hotel fire in Phnom Penh at around 3:30am on Wednesday at the Phkar Chhouk Tep 2 Hotel and Restaurant in Phsar Doeum Kor commune, in the capital’

  • EBA withdrawal a destruction of EU achievements, PM says

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said the EU’s possible suspension of its Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement amounted to a destruction of its achievements in the Kingdom and the demise of the opposition group. Hun Sen made the remarks while addressing more than 6,700 students during

  • US told to refrain from interfering in Sokha case

    Senior Cambodian officials said on Thursday that the US can monitor Kem Sokha’s trial as it wishes but would not be allowed to interfere in court procedures. The point was made in response to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s comments on Wednesday

  • Europe expected to consider EBA efforts, impact

    The government said it expects the European Commission to consider its efforts to comply with the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) regulations and the impact on one million workers should access to the agreement be suspended in February. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

  • Sri Lanka’s LOLC Holdings plans to sell Cambodian unit

    LOLC Holdings Plc, Sri Lanka’s second-largest publicly traded company by revenue, plans to sell its 70 per cent stake in Prasac Microfinance Institution Ltd, which also counts Hong Kong’s Bank of East Asia Ltd. as a shareholder, LOLC deputy chairman Ishara Nanayakkara said. Nanayakkara