Cambodia has been invited to join the Washington-brokered Transpacific Trade Partnership (TPP), which has been described as a deal that will create the largest free-trade zone in the world if it is implemented, a senior official from the Ministry of Economy and Finance said.
Ros Seilava, under-secretary of state at the ministry, said the invitation was made during a recent visit by Cambodian officials to Washington. He also said that the TPP might see changes after the next election in the United States and that these could include its expansion to include more countries.
The government has established a study group to prepare for inclusion in the TPP, he added.
Mr. Seilava made the comments on the sidelines of the “Cambodia in 2016: What to Expect” gala dinner on Saturday night. The event was organized by the Enrich Institute and sponsored by Khmer Times.
The TPP so far includes 12 Pacific rim countries – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam – that its proponents say account for 40 percent of global gross domestic product. It faces challenges in ratification in some of these countries, including Japan and the United States.
The TPP has been described by US officials as “the cornerstone of the Obama administration’s economic policy in the Asia Pacific.”
Concerns have been raised by exporters in Cambodia, particularly those in the garment and footwear industry, that Vietnam’s inclusion in the TPP could make their good less competitive in the US market. The TPP would give garment and footwear exports from Vietnam duty free access to the US market, which could erode the competitiveness of Cambodian garment and footwear exports to the US.