Cambodia will continue to enjoy preferential trade status in the United Kingdom once it leaves the European Union, a UK high-ranking official said this week.
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The United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the EU on Oct 31. However, some members of the UK Parliament are trying to delay ‘Brexit’ again to avoid leaving the bloc without a deal.
Heather Wheeler, UK Minister of Foreign and Commonwealth Office for Asia and the Pacific, on Tuesday told Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sakhon that Cambodia is among 48 less developed countries that will retain trade privileges in the UK market.
Ms Wheeler was in Phnom Penh as part of an official visit to Cambodia.
Cambodia and the United Kingdom enjoy a growing trade relation driven by increasing demand for Cambodian products in the UK.
Meas Kimheng, under-secretary of state at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, told reporters after the ministers’ meeting that maintaining trade privileges in the UK will significantly contribute to the Kingdom’s development.
“If the UK continues the preferential trade scheme, Cambodia will benefit because the UK is the second biggest importer of Cambodian goods in the EU after Germany,” he said, adding that Germany and the UK both import more than $1 billion a year worth of Cambodian goods.
Lim Heng, vice president of Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the UK minister’s remarks.
“UK is one of the biggest markets in the EU for Cambodian garments. Keeping the preferential trade scheme is good for Cambodia, but negotiating a preferential trade deal is not easy and takes a long time,” he said.
Ministry of Commerce’s spokesman Seang Thay told Khmer Times in May that the trade relation between Cambodia and the UK is growing every year.
“I don’t know the effect that Brexit will have on Cambodia-UK trade, but I hope it is not significant because our relationship with the UK is improving every year,” Mr Thay said.
Trade between Cambodia and the United Kingdom increased from $500 million in 2012 to over $1 billion last year.
Cambodia currently enjoys preferential access to the European Union’s market through the Everything-but-arms (EBA) scheme.