The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with US companies to discuss investment opportunities and partnerships.
A delegation of the CCC led by president Kith Meng left for Washington on May 8. They will be accompanying Prime Minister Hun Sen to the US-ASEAN Summit on May 12-13 and related meetings in Washington, where they will remain until May 15.
According to a published itinerary, the CCC delegation will embark on three major business meetings.
A Cambodia-US Business Meeting will take place in New York, with companies from both countries to discuss business opportunities and economy and feasibility studies in several fields.
Another Cambodia-US Business Meeting will take place in Washington, where representatives from the American Chamber of Commerce, US-ASEAN Business Council, US Special Right Business Association and companies from both countries will converge.
The CCC will then meet with the American Chamber of Commerce at its headquarters in Washington to examine the possibility of signing a memorandum of understanding between the two chambers.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post that the CCC delegation’s visit demonstrates the good relations between Cambodian and US companies, and is also an opportunity for manufacturers and buyers to network and open up potential partnerships.
He said that Cambodia-US trade is always a positive sign, especially during the global economic crisis caused by Covid-19, adding that Cambodia’s exports being much larger than US exports to the Kingdom is “noteworthy”.
“This visit [to the US] is another new opportunity that the private sector has seized. It complements the Cambodian government’s previous efforts at spurring more business, such as revising investment laws, establishing bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements, strengthening production capacity and developing a large transport infrastructure system,” he said.
According to a report from the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia, the Kingdom’s exports to the US in the first quarter of 2022 amounted to $2.150 billion, an increase of 43.7 per cent year-on-year, while imports from the US to Cambodia stood at $76.9 million, a slight 0.8 per cent decrease.
He said that the reason for Cambodia’s superior balance sheet was because it is a beneficiary of the US General Scheme of Preferences (GSP), which eliminates tax duties from recipient countries.
Cambodia’s key exports to the US are garments, footwear, travel goods and bicycles, while US imports to the Kingdom mostly encompass high-tech equipment, electronics and automobiles.
Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) deputy secretary-general Kaing Monika said that the Kingdom’s total exports to the US had begun to bounce back starting from last year, adding that exports of garments, shoes, bags and travel goods have begun to grow since the first quarter of this year.
He said that the offering of GSP by the US government to Cambodia in the past has led to the US becoming Cambodia’s largest export market.
But Monika noted that the US’ GSP programme has expired, leading to reduced trading benefits at present. “We hope the US GSP programme [will] be reauthorised sooner rather than later, as it has been expired for too long already,” he said.
Data from the US Census Bureau shows that in 2021, trade between the US and Cambodia totalled $9.159 billion, rising by 32.6 per cent from 2020 figures. Exports from Cambodia to the US amounted to $8.7453 billion, a 33.3 per cent increase, while exports from the US to Cambodia reached $413.7 million, up 20.3 per cent.