PHNOM PENH —
The United Kingdom’s trade envoy to Cambodia, Lord David Puttnam, has reassured Phnom Penh that the UK’s likely exit from the European Union will not damage trade relations between the two countries.
On a visit to Phnom Penh this week, Puttnam met with Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon.
According to ministry spokesman Chum Sounry, Puttnam told Sokhon that “the changed situation in the UK will not adversely affect bilateral relations or trade cooperation between the two countries.”
Sounry added that Puttnam had praised Cambodia’s high growth levels in recent years.
Puttnam declined to speak to the media after the meeting.
Bill Longhurst , British ambassador to Cambodia shakes hand with with FM Prak Sokhon on Tuesday, November 08 , 2016 in Phnom Penh. ( Leng Len/VOA Khmer)
The UK held a non-binding referendum on its membership of the European Union in February, which saw those voting to leave the union come out on top.
However, last week a UK court ruled that a decision to trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which would initiate Britain’s departure, would need to be put to a vote in parliament.
Soeng Sophary, Commerce Ministry spokesman, said while having to negotiate seperately with the UK after it left the EU would be an “additional burden”, it would not have a lasting impact.
However, Teng Delux, an economist, speculated that trade would be more costly to Cambodia when if it had to deal bilaterally with the UK because of Cambodia’s easy access to EU markets.
“But when the British leave the EU, it will demand new conditions or taxation or tax exemptions, but there will be certain limits, it will certainly affect [trade],” he said.
According to data from the Ministry of Commerce, bilateral trade between Cambodia and the United Kingdom has increased steadily in recent years, up from $700 million in 2013 to $800 million in 2014 and about $1 billion US dollars in 2015.