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Cambodia seeking trade deals with developed nations

The Straits Times | 27 February 2020

Cambodia seeking trade deals with developed nations

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia hopes to have trade agreements with many nations and trade blocs to diversify its economic partners and attract more foreign direct investment, said Prime Minister Hun Sen.

He said he wanted the nation to have trade agreements with different partners and was pushing to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with developed economies.

Cambodia does not have any bilateral FTA with major economic partners.

Hun Sen said the nation was taking steps to negotiate FTAs with South Korea and the Eurasian Economic Union, a bloc of countries in central and northern Asia and Eastern Europe with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$5 trillion.

According to the Khmer Times, Cambodia will sign a trade deal with China this year after the two countries wrapped up the first round of negotiations.

Hun Sen said the agreement would be signed when the Chinese prime minister attends the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting in Phnom Penh in November.

He said the United Kingdom wanted to maintain a policy to continue preferential trade with least developed countries such as Cambodia, especially after exiting the European Union.

“If the UK wants to have an FTA with Cambodia, we welcome it. The UK also requested to become a dialogue partner with Asean.”

He said Cambodia would support the UK becoming a partner with Asean.

However, it’s not clear whether the UK will have to abide by a recommendation by the European Commission to slash its Everything but Arms trade deal with Cambodia.

The transition period for the UK leaving the EU ends on Dec 31.

The UK’s trade with Cambodia is about US$1 billion.

Asian Vision Institute president Chheang Vannarith said diversification was a key term being used by Cambodian policy makers and analysts.

He said that there were three layers of diversification at the international, national, and local levels.

“Internationally, Cambodia needs to build more economic and strategic partnerships, expand export markets and make new friends.”

 source: The Straits Times