Sok Chan / Khmer Times/ December 19, 2019

Cambodia’s exports under General Systems of Preferences (GSPs) and free trade agreements were valued at $10.81 billion during the first 10 months of the year, an increase of 6.45 percent, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

In its latest report, the ministry notes that, from January to October, exports of garments were worth $6.4 billion, textiles were valued at $40 million, footwear at $905 million, and rice at $286 million. Exports in the category ‘other products’ amounted to $3.17 billion.

Speaking at a stocktaking and goal setting conference yesterday, Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak said the value of exports is growing at a rate of 10 percent a year.

He said the emphasis is now on diversifying markets, integrating into the Asean framework and improving trade relations with partners of the Southeast Asian bloc, particularly Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and India.

Mr Sorasak noted that the biggest buyers of Cambodian products are the European Union, the United States, Canada, and China.

“Cambodia is expanding to new markets in East Europe and to China, Japan, and South Korea through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement which will be concluded next year,” Mr Sorasak noted.

He said that, in line with the government’s trade integration and market diversification strategy, the Ministry of Commerce will open its sixth trade centre in China on Dec 28.

Van Sou Ieng, chairman of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), said that peace, political stability and social order have been the foundation for Cambodia’s social and economic progress.

He said that the country’s economic structure has evolved from one dependent on agriculture to one that relies on industry and services.

Mr Sou Ieng said that, given its current trajectory, Cambodia will become an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income economy by 2050.

Discussing the travel bag sector, Mr Sou Ieng said exports of the commodity grew from $58 million in 2016 to around $760 million this year. There are now 27 travel bag factories in Cambodia, 17 more than last year, according to the report from the ministry.

“I hope the Ministry of Commerce will soon open new markets in East Europe and Eurasia. This will mean hundreds of millions of dollars more in exports for our country,” Mr Sou Ieng added.

Song Saran, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation, said at the event that the association aims to export 1 million tonnes of milled rice a year by 2023.