Mekong Monitor: Cambodia-Vietnam trade likely to have exceeded US$5 billion mark
Photo credit: SPM
TRADE, ECONOMY, AND INVESTMENT
Cambodia-Vietnam trade likely to have exceeded US$5 billion mark
(15 December 2019) Trade between Cambodia and Vietnam may have already exceeded US$5 billion, said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. He believes the trade volume, targeted for 2020, may have already been reached due to trade figures not reflected in official data. According to him, exports of goods such as rice and farm produce along the border are not registered on the trade list. On another note, Vietnam invested in 206 projects in Cambodia last year worth a total of US$3.02 billion. Vietnam’s investment in Cambodia is largely concentrated in agriculture and forestry, accounting for nearly 70.0% of total registered capital while investment in finance, banking and insurance accounted for 9.4%.
Trade pacts cost Vietnam US$558 million in import duties in the first 11 months of 2019
(15 December 2019) Vietnam’s 12 existing trade pacts have so far cost the country US$1.25 billion in forgone import duties and US$558 million in the first 11 months of 2019 alone. According to its Ministry of Finance, import duties accounted for 21.85% of the country’s customs revenue in 2017, but only 17.40% in 2018 and 16.70% from January to November this year. Nevertheless, Vietnam’s customs revenue has seen steady growth as it collected US$13.74 billion in the 11 months of this year, up from 2018’s US$13.53 billion and 2017’s US$12.76 billion.
Cambodia responds to the EU over human rights concern
(12 December 2019) The Cambodian government said last week that it has responded to the European Union’s (EU) threat to suspend its Everything But Arms (EBA) trade privileges with a “comprehensive report on the actions and measures undertaken by the Royal Government to respond to all the areas of concerns” and that they expect the EU to take into consideration the potential impact that the EBA withdrawal would have “on nearly one million female workers” and their families, as well as the “principles of sovereignty and non-interference into Cambodia’s internal affairs.”
Laos to work with US on improving its business environment
(16 December 2019) Laos’ Ministry of Industry and Commerce announced that they will cooperate with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement a five-year “New Lao Business Environment Project” that aims to improve the country’s business environment through capacity building and advisory services. This would include improving the country’s trade-related laws, policies and regulations, in addition to boosting the competitiveness of Laos’ small and medium enterprises. According to US ambassador to Laos Rena Bitter, the US has invested US$22 million in recent years to help boost the Lao economy.
Taco Bell keen to expand in the Mekong region
(12 December 2019) Siam Taco, the Thai franchisee of American fast-food chain Taco Bell, is in talks with the US franchiser to acquire the rights to expand the chain to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. The company, which received the right to launch the first Taco Bell restaurant in Thailand in 2018, opened its first branch in Thailand in January 2019 and currently has four branches in Bangkok and one in Nonthaburi. Taco Bell currently has stores in 11 countries in the Asia Pacific region, including Thailand and the Philippines. New restaurants are scheduled to open in Indonesia and Malaysia in 2020.
About Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)
The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Programme was launched by the Asian Development Bank in 1992 connecting five developing ASEAN countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand, and Chinese provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region. The region has some of the most robust economies sharing the Mekong River Basin thanks to its reform and liberalisation. The subregion is growing at a faster pace than the whole of East Asia and the Asia Pacific as the GDP growth rate for 2017 was at 6.4 percent, according to the World Bank. The population at the subregion as of 2016 is at 340 million while the GDP at PPP is at US$3.1 trillion in 2016. In 2015, trading within the region was at US$444 billion.