In the midst of controversy regarding allegations of tax avoidance at the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, the Commerce Ministry recently issued a press release stating that it has found no Chinese companies that are using the SSEZ to avoid tariffs on transshipped goods to the US.
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According to Reuters on Wednesday last week, the United States has fined several companies for exporting goods via a Chinese-owned special economic zone in Cambodia in a bid to dodge President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports.
The article quoted US embassy spokesman Arend Zwartjes who said “the Department of Homeland Security has inspected and fined a number of companies for evading tariffs in the United States by routing goods through Cambodia”.
On Thursday, the Commerce Ministry said despite not receiving a notice from the US embassy, ministry officials were looking into the matter.
However according to the press release, Cambodian officials at the zone said the US embassy was wrong.
“Regarding this case, expert officials made searchers to identify [the companies]. The Commerce Ministry has to clarify that the remarks made by the US embassy spokesman had no specific foundation,” it said.
Cao Jianjiang, director-general of the SSEZ, on Thursday said there were 29 enterprises within the SSEZ and that none was investigated by US officials or punished by US Customs recently.
“We deeply regret the damage to the reputation of the SSEZ caused by the false report,” he said. “Clean people are self-cleaning, turbid people are self-turbidity,” Mr Cao said.
Established in 2008, the 1,113-hectare SSEZ is situated about 13 kilometres from the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port in southwestern Cambodia’s Preah Sihanouk province.
Factories in the SSEZ produce textiles, shoes, travel goods, electronic products, electrical accessories, tires, car parts, furniture, office equipment and supplies, and sports equipment, among others.