CNRP Lawmaker Requests Explanation for Regional Trade Deficit

The opposition CNRP is asking the commerce minister to answer questions about the country’s trade deficit with Thailand and Vietnam.

National Assembly president Heng Samrin gave the letter of inquiry from CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay to Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak on Thursday.

cam photo cnrp channa
CNRP lawmaker Son Chhay speaks at the party’s headquarters in Phnom Penh last year. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

In the letter, Mr. Chhay raises Cambodia’s roughly $1.5 billion trade deficit with Vietnam—$2.2 billion in imports versus $726 million in exports—as well as a $3.8 billion deficit with Thailand, on $4.7 billion in imports compared to $936 million in exports.

The letter asks Mr. Sorasak to explain the government’s efforts to rectify the imbalance.

Jayant Menon, lead economist at an Asian Development Bank regional office, said bilateral trade discrepancies are not a particular cause for concern.

“Cambodia’s main export market is outside the region, to the U.S. and the E.U.,” he said.

“Overall, you want to keep surplus or deficit under control, but not country to country or region to region,” he added. “We should be concerned by the overall trade position, not bilateral balance.”

Commerce Ministry spokeswoman Soeng Sophary said the ministry had not yet had an opportunity to assess the letter and form a response “because we are working on the priority work of the WEF first,” she said, referring to the World Economic Forum on Asean taking place in Phnom Penh this week.

(Additional reporting by Janelle Retka)

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