The Kingdom’s main garment industry body has voiced sheer elation over an expected influx of Cambodian products into the UK market once the former EU member state’s new Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) comes into force on January 1.
The UK has left the bloc, and the clock is ticking down to December 31 when the post-Brexit transition phase ends, the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) said in an advisory note to its members on November 19.
Citing the “Part of Brexit transition: new rules for 2021” report published by the UK’s Department for International Trade on November 10, GMAC said eligible developing countries would be able to receive trade preferences through the UK’s GSP scheme.
It said the new scheme will initially provide trade preferences to the same countries as the EU’s GSP, and will comprise three frameworks – the Least Developed Countries Framework, the General Framework and the Enhanced Framework.
“Cambodia, being classified by the UN as a Least Developed Country, falls into the Least Developed Countries Framework.
“Cambodia will therefore be entitled to duty-free and quota-free access on exports to the UK of all goods, except arms and ammunition. This is equivalent to a complete EBA [Everything But Arms] scheme under the EU’s GSP,” said GMAC.
Eager for a larger slice of the UK market, GMAC secretary-general Ken Loo told The Post: “The UK is the leading market in the EU [for Cambodian goods], accounting for between 25 and 30 per cent of [the Kingdom’s] total exports to the bloc.
“With implementation set to begin on January 1, the UK’s GSP will serve as a springboard for our product exports and expand shipments into the market.”
GMAC is working with the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce and its UK counterpart to shed light on some of the potential changes in administrative procedures applicable to certain areas, Loo said, providing “proofs of origin” as an example.
He added that GMAC is looking into whether the GSP would cover Cambodian products that arrived on UK shores on January 1, or only those that left the Kingdom on or after the day.
On August 12, the European Commission (EC) officially withdrew 20 per cent of the EBA scheme from Cambodia. The suspension affects one-fifth or €1 billion ($1.18 billion) of the Kingdom’s annual exports to the EU’s 27-nation bloc.
Bilateral trade volume between Cambodia and the UK stood at more than $1.2 billion in 2017, rising seven per cent from 2016, according to data from the British embassy in Phnom Penh.
The Kingdom exported $1.16 billion worth of goods to the UK in 2017, gaining five per cent over 2016, and imported $48 million, up 112 per cent year-on-year.