An aerial view of the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port in Preah Sihanouk province.
An aerial view of the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port in Preah Sihanouk province. Heng Chivoan

Hong Kong-Asean trade deal a boon for Cambodia

A free trade agreement signed between Hong Kong and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) stands to benefit the Kingdom by helping it diversify its export destinations, an economist said yesterday.

The agreement, which was signed on Sunday in Manila, concludes nearly three years of talks and is expected to take effect in 2019 at the earliest. The aim of the agreement is to reduce trade barriers and boost investment through greater regional economic integration.

Hiroshi Suzuki, CEO of Business Research Institute for Cambodia (BRIC), said that for heavily reliant export economies like Cambodia, these types of agreements are essential for continued growth.

“For many developing countries, including Cambodia, which are relying on exports, free trade is one of the most important fundamentals for the development of economy,” he said.

“The FTA [free trade agreement] between Hong Kong and Asean will contribute to the diversification of export destinations from Cambodia.”

Suzuki also said that the planned finalisation of the Japan-Asean Economic Partnership Agreement was expected to bring regional benefits, and urged the Kingdom to join in a version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership which was formally adopted by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) last week called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

The US withdrew from the TPP last year, sparking fears of isolationist policies.