Cambodia and South Korea have taken a step closer this month to the two nations Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with a feasibility study being signed between South Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee and Cambodian Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak in the Korean city of Busan last November.
Seang Thay, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce, told Khmer Times that expert teams from both countries have been continuing to hold meetings through teleconferences because of the COVID-19 travel restrictions.
“Both parties have already discussed the structure of the feasibility study and are now planning to finalise the results by the end of this month. We will then proceed to the negotiation stage, Thay said.
However, when asked how long the negotiation process would take, the ministry could not provide a specific period because both countries may need more time to discuss extra offers. “This negotiation stage could take from eight months to one year because the timeframe will depend on the results of negotiations from one round to another. If we want it [the FTA] to be finalised too soon, the negotiation stage will mean nothing,” Thay explained.
Even though the trade deal has not yet been signed, the ministry has already enabled the export of some goods to the South Korean market, through the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“Some of the goods we have exported to South Korea have been under the least-developed country status issued by the WTO. However, through this free trade deal, we will be able to have more quotas on more products enter their market,” Thay added.
Currently, two-way trade between Cambodia and South Korea has been valued at $1 billion in 2019, representing a 36 percent increase from $756 million in 2018, up 15 percent compared with 2017, according to official government figures.
Main exports to South Korea are clothes, electronics, shoes, luggage, aluminium, beverages, medical supplies, tents and natural rubber.
Main imports into Cambodia are trucks, clothes, mineral water, quilts, electronics, bulldozers, dyed cloths and beauty products.
Once the FTA deal is signed, it is expected to not only strengthen the relationship and promote bilateral trade between Cambodia and South Korea, but also create more employment and investment opportunities – while promoting export services that will contribute more to economic growth and bring more benefits to the people of the two nations.
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.