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Cambodia aims at more FTAs to boost economic growth

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Khmer Times | 6 February 2023

Cambodia aims at more FTAs to boost economic growth

by Chea Vanyuth

The government is considering the establishment of more bilateral free trade agreements to access broader markets for Cambodia-made products.

Arab Emirates, India, Japan, Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), Canada and American Latin countries are on the list for the Kingdom named for two-way FTA negotiation talks, said Aun Pornmoniroth, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance.

At the closing ceremony of the Commerce Ministry’s annual meeting held last week, Pornmoniroth asked the Ministry of Commerce to continue boosting the growth of goods and service exports to the existing market and expand the new market.

“Opening more markets, developing effective planning and negotiation strategies aims at making FTA negotiations with other Cambodia’s key partners,” Pornmoniroth said.

The Ministry has to conduct extensive consultations with stakeholders on the benefits of the bilateral trade agreements, he added.

Currently, Cambodia has two bilateral FTAs with China and Korea, which came into force in January and December 2022 respectively.

The Kingdom put into force the Regional Cooperation Economic Partnership (RCEP), a mega-regional trade pact composed of 15 Pacific countries, earlier in 2022.

The RCEP comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries including 10 ASEAN member states, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and their five trading partners of China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The FTAs and RCEP have provided benefits to Cambodia since the pacts came into force, said Lim Heng, vice president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce.

“Establishment of more free trade agreements with potential trade partner countries like China and Korea will get the country access to market gains for products,” Heng told Khmer Times.

The bilateral FTAs, and mega trade pact – RCEP are wider markets for Cambodia’s products, said Penn Sovicheat, Under-Secretary of State and spokesman at the Ministry of Commerce. “When we have bilateral free trade agreements with many developing countries such as China, it is a positive sign to our economy and products,” he said.

Cambodia exported products worth 22.48 billion in 2022, up about 16.4 percent from 19.3 billion a year earlier, said a General Department of Customs and Excise report.

The report said that the main exported products included apparel, footwear, travel goods, bicycles and a number of agricultural goods such as rice, rubber, cassava, bananas and mangoes.

According to the report, the top five export destinations for the Southeast Asian nation are the United States, Vietnam, China, Japan and Canada.

 source: Khmer Times