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Kingdom, US discuss Covid funding to rebuild economy

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US ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy (left) and Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth discuss additional financing to be provided by the US. FINANCE MINISTRY

Kingdom, US discuss Covid funding to rebuild economy

The US will provide additional financing to the Cambodian government to help rebuild the economy ravaged by the Covid-19 crisis, US ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy said on Wednesday.

His remarks were made during a meeting with Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth at the ministry, it said in a statement.

Murphy said the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) will provide low-interest financing to the Kingdom’s private sector, centred on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and alleviate difficulties stemming from the pandemic.

He was quoted as saying: “Considering how attractive Cambodia’s investment climate is and how many American investors are interested in venturing into Cambodia, the US will encourage more Americans to invest in Cambodia to expand the bilateral trade volume between the two countries and contribute to the livelihood of Cambodians.”

Pornmoniroth said funding through US grants has contributed to Cambodia’s development, especially in health, education, agriculture, environment and governance.

He said: “The US and other development partners have been actively involved with the Cambodian government in the fight against Covid-19.”

The government is currently implementing intervention measures aimed at maintaining socio-economic stability and economic recovery, he said.

At the same time, he said, it will turn the pandemic’s challenges into opportunities for reform and groundwork for an economic rebound.

It is implementing a series of drastic reform initiatives and policy packages aimed at improving the investment environment and promoting trade facilitation to attract more investors to the Kingdom, he added.

“Trade and investment cooperation between the two countries has been smooth and has made remarkable progress,” Pornmoniroth said.

On June 4, the DFC said its board of directors had greenlighted $1 billion of investments in global development.

The Washington DC-based development financier said: “The approved projects will strengthen health systems, bolster food security and support other highly impactful development outcomes.

“Several projects also expand access to financial services for women, small businesses and other underserved groups at a time when capital is in desperate need.

“The projects have a particular focus on development impact, with nearly 60 per cent of investments in low- and lower middle-income countries.”

Without providing a specific timeframe, US embassy spokesperson Arend C Zwartjes told The Post that the DFC and its predecessor, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), have provided more than $150 million to the Kingdom to support access to finance to under-served populations, including women and SMEs.

The US is the largest market for Cambodian exports, taking in $5.4 billion last year, up from $3 billion in 2015, Murphy said earlier this month.

He noted that the Kingdom exported $2.75 billion worth of goods to the US in the first half of this year, up 23 per cent from $2.24 billion in the same period last year.

The US provides Cambodia with preferential trade access under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme, enabling duty free access to the US market for more than 5,000 products.

Nearly $1 billion in travel goods were exported to the US last year under GSP.

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