Cambodia, UK reaffirm ties as trade surges 44%

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Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak and UK Minister of State for International Trade James Duddridge meet on the sidelines of the Group of 20 Trade, Investment, and Industry Ministerial Meeting (TIIMM) on September 23 in Bali, Indonesia. SUPPLIED

Cambodia and the UK have pledged to further boost trade cooperation after January-August bilateral trade soared more than two-fifths compared to the same period last year.

In the first eight months of 2022, trade between the two countries totalled $687.002 million, up 44.0 per cent year-on-year, with Cambodian exports to the UK worth $627.223 million, rising 42.1 per cent, and imports amounting to $59.778 million, surging 67.4 per cent, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

 

The two countries reaffirmed their commitment to further boost trade during a September 23 meeting between Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak and UK Minister of State for International Trade James Duddridge on the sidelines of the Group of 20 Trade, Investment, and Industry Ministerial Meeting (TIIMM) in Bali, Indonesia.

Sorasak thanked the UK for its continued support of and good cooperation with Cambodia, mentioning the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) trade arrangement, scholarship opportunities for Cambodian students, a ramp-up in automobile and electronics exports from the four-nation union, and the donation of Covid-19 vaccines.

Likewise, Duddridge expressed his keenness to strengthen bilateral relations between Cambodia and the UK.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng said that trade between Cambodia and the UK has generally been on an upward trajectory, save during the height of Covid-19.

The bulk of Cambodian exports to the UK comprise garments, footwear and bicycles, along with milled rice and other agricultural products, while key imports include automobiles and machinery, he said.

Heng underscored that the duty-free import regime under the GSP programme has helped Cambodian goods compete on the UK market with counterparts from other countries, and has offset some of the impact from the EU’s partial withdrawal of its “Everything But Arms” (EBA) trade scheme.

 

He also commented that through the GSP, via the UK’s trade agreements with the EU, Cambodian goods have relatively free access to European markets.

Speaking to The Post on September 27, Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, predicted that trade between the two countries would accelerate going forward, echoing Heng’s comment that the UK’s GSP would allow a considerable volume of Cambodian goods to enter European markets.

Cambodia-UK trade in 2021 came in at $788.652 million, down 10.60 per cent from 2020, with Cambodian exports falling 11.89 per cent to $731.842 million, whereas imports rose 10.2 per cent to $56.809 million, according to the GDCE. Cambodia’s trade surplus with the UK narrowed 13.36 per cent to $675.033 million.

Similarly, between the August 5, 1994 promulgation of the old Law on Investment and December 31, 2021, Cambodia recorded a cumulative total of $41 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI), marking an 11.2 per cent jump from end-2020, according to the National Bank of Cambodia. The UK accounted for a 3.4 per cent share, at $1.4 billion.