Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Canada was valued at about $822 million in the first 10 months of 2021, marking a 26 per cent year-on-year surge, and many economists are hopeful that an ASEAN-Canada free trade agreement (FTA) would be able to create a more favourable environment and further accelerate that growth rate.
Official negotiations for the ASEAN-Canada FTA were announced at the virtual 10th ASEAN Economic Ministers- (AEM) Canada Consultations on November 17. The Cambodian delegation to the event was led by Minister of Commerce and ASEAN Economic Minister for Cambodia Pan Sorasak.
In January-October 2021, Cambodian exports to Canada were worth $790 million, up by 31 per cent year-on-year from $604 million, and imports logged $32 million, down by 33 per cent from $48 million in the same period in 2020, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng told The Post that an ASEAN-Canada FTA, much like other similar bilateral and regional trade deals, would greatly benefit the Kingdom and provide new avenues to export local merchandise.
“Cambodia has exported a lot of core merchandise to the Canadian market such as textile products, garments and apparel, travel goods, bicycles, et cetera.
“So if Cambodia, as an ASEAN member, gets preferential tariffs on these items, it’d be able to grab the attention of those investors who produce goods for export to Canada,” he said.
Heng shared that the CCC is working with the ministry to open its first representative office abroad, in Canada, “as soon as possible” after numerous Covid-related delays.
Branches are also planned for the EU, US, China and Japan, he said, adding that these offices aim to facilitate business relations.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, billed Canada as a “developed and prosperous country” that buys a lot of goods from the Kingdom, mostly textile-based wares, bags, travel products and other items.
He remarked on the strong historical trade performance between the two countries, and said: “Through continuous production diversification, Cambodia expects to be able to export more to Canada.
“By introducing new investment laws and other trade legislation, I foresee that the trade volume between the two countries will be even bigger in the future,” he told The Post.