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Cambodia’s Trade Surges with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

by Surya Narayan
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In the first half of this year, Cambodia has experienced a significant surge in exports to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), with a growth of 24 percent reaching $4 billion, according to a report from the Ministry of Commerce. On the other hand, the Kingdom’s imports from RCEP countries showed a slight dip of 17 percent, amounting to $10.74 billion.

Among the RCEP countries, Vietnam emerged as the largest export market for Cambodia, with $1.43 billion worth of products shipped. Thailand followed as the second-largest export market, with $527 million worth of goods. Singapore secured the third spot, with Cambodia exporting $415 million worth of goods to the country.

One of the driving factors behind Cambodia’s increased trade with RCEP countries is the attractive trade preferences offered under the mega-regional trade pact. With almost zero trade tariffs, exporters in Cambodia have been able to take full advantage of this trade deal, resulting in a notable rise in both exports and imports.

Economists believe that the RCEP, along with Cambodia’s bilateral free trade agreements with several countries, has the potential to further boost exports. The mutually beneficial cooperation and win-win results provided by RCEP have not only promoted greater regional economic integration but have also demonstrated the unwavering commitment of all member countries to free trade and multilateralism.

The RCEP free trade agreement, entered into force on January 1, 2022, includes 15 Asia-Pacific countries. This includes the 10 ASEAN member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) and their five trading partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

The positive impact of RCEP on Cambodia’s trade is evident, with the annual trade value between Cambodia and RCEP member countries reaching $31 billion in 2022, representing a 4 percent increase compared to the previous year.

Furthermore, the China-Cambodia Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), combined with Cambodia’s favorable investment law, have also played crucial roles in attracting Chinese investors to the Southeast Asian nation. The combination of these initiatives has created a conducive environment for trade and investment, fostering economic growth and prosperity in Cambodia.

As Cambodia continues to strengthen its economic ties with RCEP member countries and exploit the benefits of the trade pact, the future looks promising for the Kingdom’s trade sector. With the commitment to free trade and multilateral cooperation, the RCEP will serve as a catalyst for Cambodia’s economic growth and further enhance its position in the global market.

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