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Trade Officials Laud Removal From Blacklist

The US has removed Cambodia from a list prohibiting financing for US companies, paving the way for more trade, experts say.

Last week the administration of President Barrack Obama deemed that Cambodia had “ceased to be a Maxist-Leninist country,” opening the possibility of loans from the US Export-Import Bank to companies hoping to invest in the country.

This “provides working capital guarantees, export credit insurance, and loan guarantees and direct loans to US businesses,” Debbie Mesloh, a spokeswoman for Obama’s office of the US Trade Representative, told VOA Khmer by e-mail.

Even though it is still early to say what products US companies might export, officials expressed optimism that many companies would be interested in doing business in Cambodia.

“US exporters will be very interested in knowing that in the near future they should be able to receive US Export-Import Bank financing to finance their exports to Laos and Cambodia,” Phil Cogan, spokesman for the US Export-Import Bank, told VOA Khmer by phone. “That’s good for buyers there, and it’s certainly good for US exporters.”

US export to Cambodia last year reached $154 million, mainly in vehicles, electrical machinery, medical equipment and agricultural goods. Imports from Cambodia were $2.4 billion, in clothing and textile products.

Cogan said the US had a good history of providing electrical services, such as hydro-electricity and oil and gas energy, and produces good equipment for the oil industry.

“There are lots of potentials in both of those countries, and the buyers there would certainly be interested in high-quality US goods and service,” Cogan said.

Cambodia is exploring potential offshore oil blocks, with the hopes of producing in coming years.

Cambodian officials suggested that US investors should also focus on agriculture, fisheries and natural resources, in addition to the garment sector.

“There are also mineral resources that Cambodia has for US long-term investment,” Koy Kuong, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, told VOA Khmer.

The US move was another signal in strengthening relations between the two countries.

“This is good news in the relationship between Cambodia and the US,” Prime Minister Hun Sen told reporters following the announcement. “I think that what US President Obama did was a good start for the globalization process, which does not distinguish between black and white.”

Kith Meng, president of the Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce, told VOA Khmer by phone on Tuesday that much economic potential exists for US investment, such as oil and gas, airlines and tourism.

“It is good that the US took Cambodia off of the blacklist,” he said. “This means that Cambodia is now developed, and I hope there will be more US companies investing in Cambodia.”