ADB says RCEP, bilateral FTAs to bring great benefits to Cambodia

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade deal and bilateral free trade agreements(FTAs) will bring a lot of benefits to Cambodia in the long term, Asian Development Bank (ADB) acting country director for Cambodia Anthony Gill said on Wednesday.

In addition to the RCEP free trade deal, Cambodia has bilateral free trade agreements with China and South Korea.

The RCEP is a mega trade pact between 10 ASEAN member states and its FTA partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Both the RCEP and the Cambodia-China FTA took effect on Jan. 1 this year, as the Cambodia-Republic of Korea FTA is expected to enter into force in the near future.

Gill said Cambodia by and large is in a very good position to expand its trade with diverse neighboring partners.

“These free trade agreements bring a lot of benefits to the country, other than job creation, further innovation, and more investment. So we believe that these are very positive measures for Cambodia,” he said during a video press conference on the launch of the ADB outlook on Cambodia’s economy in 2022.

However, he said Cambodian businesses really need to optimize the benefits of these agreements, try to improve their business environment, skills, and innovation, and strengthen their competitiveness.

Released during the press conference, the ADB outlook indicated that Cambodia’s economy is forecast to grow 5.3 percent in 2022 and 6.5 percent in 2023 thanks to strong merchandise exports and foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows.

“Widespread vaccination against COVID-19 has enabled the country to reopen its borders for trade and tourism, leading to positive economic prospects for this year and 2023,” Gill said.

He added that reopening the economy and the high level of vaccination coverage will allow for a gradual recovery in tourism, which will, in turn, support demand for accommodation, food, transportation, and other in-person services.

Despite the pandemic, FDI inflows into Cambodia remained strong, with China still topping the list of foreign investors in the Southeast Asian nation.

ADB economist for Cambodia Sophie Duong T. Nguyen said FDI has been benefiting Cambodia in terms of economic growth, stability, and job creation.

“Even during the pandemic, FDI inflows into Cambodia have been very resilient and this is very encouraging,” she said. “We hope that FDI from China and other countries in the region will continue to flow into Cambodia in the coming years.” Xinhua

Source: https://www.khmertimeskh.com/501054249/adb-says-rcep-bilateral-ftas-to-bring-great-benefits-to-cambodia/