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Hun Sen Wants Trade Balance With Neighbors

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday urged a balance of imports and exports to countries like China, Thailand and Vietnam.

In 2009, imports from Vietnam and Thailand reached $2 billion each, and $1 billion from China. However, exports to those countries were far lower, creating a wide deficit, Hun Sen said at the inauguration of a new building for the Ministry of Commerce in Phnom Penh.

“At this point, we must push our efforts to encourage investment for export to Asean markets and other important markets like the US, Europe, China, Korea and Japan,” he said.

Cambodiahas the capacity to export $4 billion in goods on the world market, Hun Sen said. Cambodia’s economy is led by the garment industry, which accounts for nearly half its exports, followed by agricultural goods such as rubber and corn. The garment industry has been hard hit by the economic downturn, with fewer orders coming in from lucrative markets like the US and Europe.

According to government figures, Cambodia exported $3.6 billion in goods in 2009, down $807 million from the previous year. Its imports reached of total of $5.2 billion in 2009, down $1 billion from the year before.

Nov Sieha, a researcher for the Economic Institute of Cambodia, said Cambodia’s export problems were due to “weak” productivity.

“We lack competitiveness,” he said.