Tom Starkey / Khmer Times

Government officials, investors and textile union representatives have welcomed the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) granted to Cambodia by the UK, with many confident it will help counteract the partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms (EBA) deal with the EU.

The granting of GSP status will give exports from the Kingdom duty and quota-free access to UK markets starting from 2021.

Vice-President of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce Oknha Lim Heng said the GSP represents an opportunity to refresh investor outlooks in the UK towards the Kingdom, particularly with regard to Cambodia’s main exports, namely textiles, footwear and milled rice.

Secretary of State at the Ministry of Commerce Sok Sopheak, said that Cambodia officials and business people will engage their UK counterparts in discussions on the import and export process, both during and after the pandemic.

He added that, “The GSP will contribute vitally in aiding Cambodia’s economic bounce back from the COVID-19 economic downturn.”

Deputy Secretary-General of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia Kaing Monika also applauded the move, noting that the GSP is set to deliver a much-needed boost to the textile industry, one of the main exports from the Kingdom to the UK.

In 2019, bilateral trade between Cambodia and the UK was worth about $1 billion. In the first three months of 2020, Cambodia exported goods valued at around $200 million, $190 million of which were textile products to the UK.

The GSP is another positive development for the Kingdom, which has executed a number of trade deals following the partial EBA withdrawal in August, having already secured a historic free trade agreement (FTA) with China and completed the fourth-round of talks towards a bilateral FTA with South Korea.

The successful conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) multilateral mega-deal signed by 15 Asia-Pacific countries last month will also help, and rising trade with India is prompting suggestions of a possible FTA with that regional powerhouse, all standing the Kingdom in good stead to mitigate the impacts of the 20 percent EBA tariff withdrawal.