Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen calls for caution amid China-US trade war

Hun Sen calls for caution amid China-US trade war

A worker cuts a sample from a steel coil that was set aside for quality-control testing during steel production at the NLMK Indiana steel mill on March 15 in Portage, Indiana. SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/aFP
A worker cuts a sample from a steel coil that was set aside for quality-control testing during steel production at the NLMK Indiana steel mill on March 15 in Portage, Indiana. SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/aFP

Hun Sen calls for caution amid China-US trade war

Prime Minister Hun Sen warned on Tuesday that a developing trade war between the US and China could affect Cambodia, and said the Kingdom must act to mitigate any potential fallout.

In March, US President Donald Trump’s administration slapped tariffs on global imports of steel and aluminium, with the president later threatening to do so on up to $60 billion of Chinese goods. China responded by unveiling plans to impose tariffs on $3 billion of American imports.

“We must monitor this issue,” Hun Sen said, warning that other countries might feel the ripple effects.

“We do not export steel and aluminium, but please don’t forget that global economic issues influence all places. We must prepare ourselves to avoid crisis in the trade sector and reduce any impacts.”

Miguel Chanco, lead Asean analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit, said the risks to Cambodia’s economy are evident from past experience with Vietnam.

Chanco said that the US imposed high duties on Vietnamese steel in December 2017, because they determined it had too much Chinese material in it. The US believed China was “basically exporting Chinese steel through Vietnam”, he explained.
The same duties could potentially be applied to Cambodia’s garment industry if it’s found to rely predominantly on Chinese material, which Chanco believes it does.

He believed Hun Sen’s strategy for reducing risk was likely to continue lowering dependence on the US while strengthening ties to China. So far, he said, the shift has served Cambodia well, with the economy “more diversified than it was five years ago”, though he warned it could go too far.

Chan Sophal, director of the Centre for Policy Studies, said an economic slowdown brought on by a trade war could reduce Chinese investment in Cambodia. He did note, however, a trade war might aid Cambodia’s economy in other ways by encouraging China to lower the price of its exports.

“For instance, if the export of Chinese steel and aluminium to the US declines because of the high tariffs . . . China might lower the price for exporting to Asia. We can purchase the Chinese steel cheaper than before.”

Additional reporting by Andrew Nachemson

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement