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Cambodia Wants Bigger Market From US

Cambodia wants trade preferences from the US to allow thousands of products to be imported into the market, commerce officials said Wednesday. Cambodian Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh is in Washington for talks and is meeting with US congressmen over Cambodia's trade status, as the US considers a law to help poor countries be more commercially competitive.

Cham Prasidh joined a panel discussion at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Wednesday to discuss the trade status of poor countries. US Congressman Jim McDermott also attended the talks.

No tariffs and no quotas on imported goods would help countries like Cambodia boost their economic performance, Cham Prasidh said.

Cambodia has undergone rapid economic growth in recent years, but economists warn the distribution of wealth has been uneven.

McDermott has proposed the Millennium Trade and Development Act to help about 50 poor countries around the world, including Cambodia.

He said Cham Prasidh made a good presentation for Cambodia's case for preferential trade treatment, calling the minister a "skilled negotiator."

Freed trade agreements with countries like China and Vietnam continue to hurt Cambodia's economic development. Cambodia once had special trade status for garments, but international trade laws have changed, forcing Cambodia to compete with its neighbors, who have better infrastructure and more skilled labor.

Cham Prasidh said Cambodia had done well ensuring workers rights while trying to grow the sector, which could be an assurance to buyers that goods made in Cambodia can be purchased with a clear conscience.