Cambodia’s total export to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) member countries, amounted to 1.95 billion U.S. dollars, in the first quarter of 2022, up 11 percent from 1.75 billion dollars over the same period last year.

During the Jan-Mar period this year, Cambodia’s top three export destinations were Vietnam, China and Thailand, the data said, adding, the kingdom shipped products worth 759 million dollars to Vietnam, 322 million dollars to China and 318 million dollars to Thailand.

Penn Sovicheat, Cambodian Ministry of Commerce’s undersecretary of state and spokesman, attributed the export growth to the RCEP free trade agreement, which entered into force in Jan.

“It’s just the start. The RCEP trade deal will give a big boost to our economy in the long term,” he said. “Under this mega-pact, Cambodia is projected to see a year’s export growth at 9.4 to 18 percent, which will contribute to the national economic growth from two to 3.8 percent.”

The regional trade pact comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries, including 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and their five trading partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

It will eliminate as much as 90 percent of the tariffs on goods traded between its signatories over the next 20 years.

“China is a huge market for Cambodia, especially for our agriculture produce, such as rice, bananas, mangoes and cassava, and industrial products, and processing goods,” Sovicheat said.

Senior economist, Ky Sereyvath, director-general of the Institute of China Studies, at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said, the RCEP trade deal provided Cambodia with bigger market access and a great opportunity to diversify its exports.

“This pact is also one of the key factors for attracting more international investors, especially from China,” he said. “It will help Cambodia quicken its economic recovery from COVID-19.”

Sereyvath said that through the RCEP trade pact, Cambodia could be a hub-and-spoke model to distribute goods from China to the ASEAN region.

Being the world’s largest trade bloc, the RCEP trade deal has a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 26.2 trillion U.S. dollars, representing around 30 percent of global GDP, 28 percent of global trade, and 32.5 percent of global investment.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Phnom Penh-based Asian Vision Institute, said, the pact offered an opportunity for regional countries to defend trade liberalisation and promote economic integration, which are key to the post-COVID-19 recovery.

“The successful story of RCEP serves as a role model for multilateralism and is hope for cross-regional economic cooperation and connectivity in the post-pandemic era,” he said.

Source: NAM News Network

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