Ministry Reports Increase in Exports for 2001

The Sept 11 terrorist strikes in the US and the general malaise of the global economy did not keep Cambodia from registering an increase in economic activity.

Both exports and imports increased in 2001 over the previous year, but the Ministry of Commerce still will be looking for more markets for Cambodian goods in the upcoming year, Commerce Minister Cham Pra­sidh said Tuesday after the first day of a two-day annual review meeting.

Exports rose about $200 million in 2001 to around $1.2 billion, he said. Meanwhile, imports increased to about $1.4 billion.

Earlier this year, the Inter­national Monetary Fund predicted economic growth somewhere between 4 percent and 5 percent—not quite enough to keep up with population growth, but enough to encourage the IMF to maintain its lending programs.

In 2002, the government will be looking for consistent growth in the garment industry, which ac­counts for about 80 percent of ex­ports, to shrink the trade def­icit, which stands at about $200 million. The US renewed a textile trade pact with Cambodia in De­cember, increasing the amount of goods it can export to US markets.

That, combined with increased efforts to find markets in Europe and Japan, should increase Cam­bodian exports in 2002, Cham Prasidh said.

Meanwhile, joining the World Trade Organization is the ministry’s main priority, he said.

Cham Prasidh will lead a delegation to Geneva in February to discuss questions and concerns other nations have about Cambo­dian membership.

“I’m still optimistic about WTO,” he said, adding that he hoped Cambodia would be invited to join the international trade body by year’s end.

The main obstacles will be the drafting and passing some 40 new Cambodian laws, which he hopes to accomplish with technical assistance.



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