Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia's Labour Ministry praises Trump's pledge to kill TPP




Cambodia's Labour Ministry praises Trump's pledge to kill TPP

Delegates hold up anti-TPP signs during a convention in Philadelphia this year. Brendan Smialowski/AFP
Delegates hold up anti-TPP signs during a convention in Philadelphia this year. Brendan Smialowski/AFP

Cambodia's Labour Ministry praises Trump's pledge to kill TPP

In the wake of Donald Trump’s surprise win in the US presidential election on Wednesday, Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour said yesterday that the president-elect’s campaign promise to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal would restore the Cambodian garment sector’s competitiveness in the region.

The 12-member Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was signed in February and, once ratified, was expected to liberalise trade among signatory nations – including the US, Japan, Canada, Vietnam, Malaysia and Japan. However, Trump, during his presidential campaign, adopted a protectionist stance on trade deals, vowing to renegotiate or break existing agreements.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country – just a continuing rape of our country,” Trump said during a campaign stop in the state of Ohio in late June.

Welcoming Trump’s victory in the elections, Sour yesterday said that Trump would dismantle the TPP, neutralising any expected trade advantages for neighbouring Vietnam.

“If he [Trump] really eliminates the TPP, it will mean Cambodia can maintain its competitiveness in the garment sector and put neighbouring countries on an equal footing with us again,” he said.

Sour said the garment sector would face “problems” if it had to compete with Vietnam, which would enjoy tariff-free exports to the US under the TPP, while Cambodian exports would still be taxed.

Experts yesterday said the potential elimination of the TPP could provide the Kingdom some reprieve in the short term, but blamed structural issues within the sector for a drop in competitiveness.

Miguel Chanco, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s lead analyst for ASEAN, said the “death of the TPP” would not necessarily translate into an increase in Cambodian garment exports.

“With or without the TPP, the fact is that wages in the country’s garment industry are rising rapidly, diminishing its cost competitiveness vis-a-vis TPP hopefuls like Vietnam,” Chanco said, via email.

Additionally, the Kingdom would have to improve worker productivity and training, as well as the supporting infrastructure, to stem an exodus of investment away from the sector, said Ken Loo, spokesman for the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia.

However, William Conklin, country director for the labour advocacy group Solidarity Center, said with or without TPP, Vietnam was moving ahead with bringing its garment sector to the stringent standards of the trade deal.

“They’re still going through with it,” he said. “The government needs to see what changes make sense here and then have people invest in it.”

MOST VIEWED

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,