Cambodia exported $6,059 million of goods to the United States over the first 11 months of 2020, an increase of 17 percent compared with the same period a year before. This reflects a bright spot in the Kingdom’s export performance despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Figures from the US government show that the bilateral trade between Cambodia and the US was valued at $6,369 million during this period, a slide downwards of 22 percent year-on-year. That indicated a drop in US exports to the Kingdom. Cambodia imported $312 million of products from the world’s largest economy, a decrease of 36 percent.
November 2020 figures showed Cambodian exports of $526 million to the US, an increase of 32 percent. year on year. Imports of $42 million from the US were up 9 percent for this period.
Cambodian exports to the US are primarily garments, footwear and travel products. US imports to the Kingdom are mostly vehicles, animal feed and machinery.
The increase in Cambodian exports to the US is down to the trade preference scheme known as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) that the US provided to Cambodia in 2020, said Lim Heng, a vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce.
He noted that Cambodia’s exports to the US are particularly strong among product categories covered by the GSP in 2020, including travel goods, bicycle, and electronic components to the US which keep increasing,”
In a discussion with Khmer Times yesterday, he also said that Cambodia’s growth in exports to the US has been on the rise since July 2016, when the US granted Cambodia preferential tariff status to travel products, under an amendment to the GSP programme. Travel products include items such as handbags, backpacks and suitcases.
The GSP programme expired on Dec 31 when the US Congress ran out of time to reauthorise it before adjourning. As a result, importers of travel goods from Cambodia will be required to pay import duties until the programme is reauthorised.
According to a statement from the Garment Manufacture Association in Cambodia (GMAC) released on Jan 6, goods entering the US after Dec 31, 2020, will be subject to Most-Favoured-Nation duty rates, but that GSP treatment should return because past congressional practice has been to extend the programme retroactively from the original expiration date. Importers will be refunded (without interest) for duties incurred during the lapse, should past practices prevail.
“We hope that the reauthorisation by the Congress will happen soon. We will keep all members informed as soon as [any] developing news breaks,” GMAC said in its statement.