Two-way trade between Cambodia and the United States reached $4.3 billion in the first nine months of 2019, an increase of 37 percent compared with the same period last year, the latest data from the US government shows.
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From January to September, Cambodia’s shipments to the United States rose by 38 percent to $3.9 billion, while imports from the US were valued at $400 million, a 24 percent increase.
According to the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce, Cambodia mostly exports textiles, footwear, travel goods, and agricultural products to the US, while this one ships mostly vehicles, animal feed, and machinery to the Kingdom.
Speaking to Khmer Times yesterday, Kaing Monika, deputy secretary-general for the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), said trade between the nations is experiencing healthy growth.
“Trade with the US continues to grow for all items exported,” he said, noting, however, that travel goods experienced the highest growth because they have tariff-free access to the US market under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
Garments and footwear, Mr Monika explained, experienced smaller growth because of fierce competition from Vietnam and Myanmar.
In July 2016, Cambodia was granted duty-free benefits for exports of travel goods like luggage, backpacks, handbags, and wallets to the US under GSP.
Mr Monika said the Kingdom now has about 70 travel goods factories.
Discussing the trade spat between the US and China, Mr Monika said the conflict has benefitted the Kingdom, who has been chosen as a manufacturing base by several companies that decided to relocate out of China.
In a meeting last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen and newly-appointed US Ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy called for a strengthening of ties between the countries.
Relations between the two countries began to sour after the opposition CNRP was dissolved in November 2017 by the Supreme Court and its leader, Kem Sokha, was accused of colluding with the US to overthrow the government.
“The relationship between both countries did not begin from zero,” Mr Hun Sen noted. “We must continue to maintain the ties we have built since the start.”
“I would like to instruct all public institutions, and officials at all levels to strive to enhance and strengthen relations with the US,” Mr Hun Sen said in a press release.
Last year, trade between Cambodia and the US reached $4.26 billion, up 23 percent year-on-year. Cambodian exports to the US were valued at $3.8 billion.