Gov’t Seeks To Increase Exports Outside Garments

Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol on Thursday presided over the launch of the country’s second Export Diversification and Expansion Program, which provides financial support to the government to help increase exports in goods other than garments.

The program, which is funded by the Enhanced Integrated Framework, a World Trade Organization initiative, will finance projects supporting the export of marine fish and cassava, as well as training in tourism.

More than $6 million will be spent on the projects over the three years, said Pan Sorasak, a secretary of state at the Commerce Ministry, helping to break Cambodia’s reliance on the export of garments, which brought in more than $5 billion last year.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Tuesday that, including money brought into Cambodia by “on-the-spot” export of tourism, Cambodia exported goods worth just shy of $10 billion last year.

At Thursday’s meeting, a researcher from the U.N.’s Industrial Development Organization unveiled a project to support the processing of marine fish for export, which he said had a budget of $1.3 million over three years, while a representative from the U.N. Development Fund unveiled a $1.3 million project to process cassava.

The processing of cassava, which is often exported informally in its raw form, will bring more money into Cambodia, Mr. Chanthol said.

The creation of a “Royal Academy of Culinary Arts,” intended to promote service in Cambodia’s tourism industry, will be funded by the remaining $3.4 million of the export-diversification program.

Mr. Chanthol used a question-and-answer session after the presentation of the project to enquire about possible expansions to spur export growth further, suggesting that Cambodia emulate Vietnam in exporting catfish to countries such as the U.S. and Singapore.

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