Cambodian minister tells exporters to reap benefits of RCEP

Cambodian Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak

Phnom Penh, (Samajweekly) Cambodian Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak on Wednesday told local exporters to reap the benefits of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade pact, which came into force from January 1.

In a speech to some 350 officials and business executives at the first seminar on RCEP, Sorasak encouraged the exporters to seize the opportunities and maximize the benefits of RCEP, saying that the pact would provide them with tariff concession.

“RCEP will be a driving force for sustainable socio-economic development in Cambodia,” Xinhua news agency reported quoting Sorasak as saying.

The regional trade pact comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries including 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.

It will eliminate 90 per cent of the tariffs on goods traded between its signatories over the next 20 years.

The minister said under RCEP, Cambodia is expected to see a year’s export growth between 9.4 per cent and 18 per cent, which will contribute to the national economic growth between 2 per cent and 3.8 percent.

He added that the mega-pact would help attract more foreign direct investment to the kingdom, where there are young labor force and low labor cost.

Sorasak advised exporters to try to understand the rules of origin for the export under RCEP and told them to apply for a certificate of origin through an automatic system if they wish to export their products under this pact.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said RCEP is very beneficial to Cambodia as it will give the country larger market access with preferential tariff.

“I have a strong conviction that more foreign investors, especially from China, will come to invest in Cambodia in order to export back to China and other RCEP countries,” he told Xinhua.

“RCEP will give a big boost to our economy, especially during the post-COVID-19 pandemic era,” he said.

According to a Ministry of Commerce’s report, Cambodia’s total export to the RCEP member countries amounted to 1.95 billion US dollars in the first quarter of 2022, up 11 percent from 1.75 billion dollars over the same period last year.