Cambodia Denies Transhipping Chinese Goods to US

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Main seaport in Sihanouk Vile. VOD/Heng Vichet

The government has denied claims companies are exporting goods from China to the U.S. through a Cambodian special economic zone to avoid paying tariffs.

A report by Reuters last week said the U.S. fined “several companies” for using the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to tranship exports from China without having to pay U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese exports.

It quoted Arend Zwartjes, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, as saying that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had concluded the firms were “evading tariffs in the United States by routing goods through Cambodia.”  

However, the Commerce Ministry on Saturday issued a press release rejecting the claims. It said the U.S. had complained about exports of cereals, amino acids and steel — but that “expert officials” had gone to Sihanoukville to investigate and not found any companies active in exporting those items from the SEZ.

In particular, it says Infinite Manufacturing Co., Ltd., had previously exported items like amino acids from the SEZ but ceased operations in September 2017.

Cambodia enjoys wide-ranging tariff reductions on exports to the U.S. under the generalized system of preferences. Trump in March 2018 extended Cambodia’s access to the tariff reductions until late 2020 but there have recently been efforts among lawmakers in the U.S. to cut off access over human rights violations.

In the first quarter of 2019, Cambodia exported more than $1 billion in goods to the U.S. market — a marked increase of 24 percent on the first quarter last year.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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