Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodian exports to US surpass $1B in Q1 for first time

Cambodian exports to US surpass $1B in Q1 for first time

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A bag and suitcase shop near the Central Market in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

Cambodian exports to US surpass $1B in Q1 for first time

Cambodian exports to the US have seen a strong expansion this year, surpassing $1 billion in the first quarter for the first time, thanks largely to a boost in travel goods exports.

Cambodian-made suitcases and handbags have been provided access to the US market under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme since July 2016. Access has contributed significantly to increasing the value of the Kingdom’s exports to the country.

According to the latest trade data from the US government, Cambodian exports from January to March amounted to $1.12 billion – up 24 per cent from $903.6 million during the same period last year.

Bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to $1.24 billion in the first three months of this year. Of this, Cambodian imports from the US amounted to $122 million.

The US’ goods trade deficit with Cambodia was $998 million during the first three months of this year.

US embassy spokesman Arend C Zwartjes told The Post on Tuesday that the US remains Cambodia’s largest single export market, and Cambodia is a beneficiary of duty-free market access under the US’ GSP programme.

He said exports under GSP more than doubled to over $720 million last year, led by travel goods.

“Our embassy worked hard to have travel goods added to the list of GSP-eligible products, something that happened in 2016."

“That action helped Cambodian exports in that one category of goods alone to increase from about $50 million in 2016 to just under $400 million last year, as well as bring in many millions of dollars in investment,” he said.

According to Zwartjes, top Cambodian exports to the US include textiles and footwear. Top US exports to Cambodia are vehicles, animal feed and machinery.

Last year, Cambodia was the US’ 57th largest supplier of imports and its 104th largest export market. The value of Cambodian exports to the US totalled $3.8 billion last year, while US exports to the Kingdom were valued at $447 million.

Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia president Van Sou Ieng on Tuesday echoed Zwartjes’ comments that the huge increase in the export of Cambodian-made travel goods to the US was the main factor behind the significant rise in Cambodian exports to that country.

Sou Ieng said after Cambodia was listed as a beneficiary of duty-free market access under GSP in July 2016, the value of eligible items exported had increased more than 10-fold within the two-year period between 2016 and last year.

He said the number of factories producing travel goods has greatly increased to around 80 today.

“The export of travel goods from Cambodia to the US will continue to increase this year at a growth rate of least 30 to 40 per cent. With the results early in the year, I think the export of goods from Cambodia to the US will continue to rise strongly for the whole year,” he said.

However, there are uncertainties in that the US could review its preferential tariff arrangements with Cambodia. Zwartjes said the US remains concerned about perceived human rights issues in the Kingdom and the alleged weakening of democratic institutions.

He said the US Congress, in particular, has made it clear that they share these concerns and are continuing to introduce legislation that, if passed, would include a number of punitive steps against Cambodia.

“The proposed legislation now being considered by Congress includes provisions that would require [US President Donald Trump’s] Administration to review GSP benefits."

“But the Administration has not taken a position on these bills, and we do not know how likely they are to go forward,” Zwartjes told The Post.

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,