The US government will provide grants of over $62 million in the first year of a new five-year agreement – in which $41.6 million will be earmarked for health and education and approximately $25 million will go to agriculture and environment programmes – through implementing organisations in Cambodia.

The provisional document, known as the Development Objective Agreement Grant, was signed between the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on April 25.

According to the CDC’s April 27 press release, the agreement plans to support the government for a five-year period from 2021-2025, with a total estimated amount of $338 million. The grants aim to broaden inclusive and sustainable economic growth through agriculture and environment projects and strengthen Cambodia’s health, education, and child protection services.

According to the press release, from 1992 to 2021, the US government provided around $1.7 billion in assistance. This assistance focusing on priority sectors such as health, education, environment, agriculture, governance, democratic development, and demining, which are well aligned with the government’s priorities as outlined in its Rectangular Strategy Phase IV and the National Strategic Development Plan 2019-2023.

“On behalf of the government, the CDC would like to express its sincere thanks to both the US government and the American people for their continued support and commitment to the inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development of Cambodia and especially for their contribution to the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 in the Kingdom. The US government likewise appreciates the continued collaboration with the government of Cambodia in areas of mutual interest,” it said.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan told The Post on April 27 that the US government’s $62 million development grant was a good sign and the gesture demonstrates the closeness between Cambodia and the US, an important partner.

“The US assistance will contribute to the development of Cambodia in addition to what the Kingdom is doing today,” he said.

According to Siphan, in addition to the direct cooperation between Cambodia and the US, this grant will help take the relationship between the two countries to another level.

From the beginning to the present, the US remains a good development and cooperation partner, because Cambodia’s focus is on a win-win policy, he added.

Political and social analyst Em Sovannara told The Post on April 27 that the US government’s funding came to Cambodia at this time because it is the chair of ASEAN, which is preparing to attend the ASEAN-US Special Summit in Washington on May 12. It also improves the relationship between the two countries, which will be advantageous in facilitating discussions in the future.

He added that the offer could also pave the way for in-depth dialogue between Cambodia and the US on some doubts regarding the Chinese military presence in the Kingdom. If Cambodia adopts the same positions as China, as it has done in the past, it will be affected in the future.

“In terms of Cambodia-US relations, I think it depends on the attitude of the leaders, announcing only policies and practices. I believe we can follow the proclamation, because Cambodia has a good, independent, neutral position, but in the past, people have looked more suspiciously at our political affiliation with China. The US does not want us to turn to them. They want Cambodia to give equal opportunities for competition from the West and the East,” he said.