July 14, 2006

US, Cambodia sign trade, investment framework

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and Cambodia
signed an agreement on Friday to increase trade and investment
flows as part of a broader American initiative in the region,
the U.S. Trade Representative's office said.

Washington already has "trade and investment framework
agreements" (TIFAs) with several countries in Southeast Asia.
The frameworks create a bilateral forum to work on trade issues
and can be a stepping stone to free trade pacts.

The United States also is negotiating an overarching trade
and investment framework agreement with the ten members of the
Association of Southeast Asian Nations, whose total population
is about 570 million.

"We welcome Cambodia into our family of TIFA partners in
Southeast Asia," Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Karan Bhatia
said in a statement.

"We look forward to building our trade and investment
relations under this dialogue, working more closely on regional
and WTO issues, and helping Cambodia fully implement its WTO

U.S. exports to Cambodia increased 18 percent to nearly $70
million in the past year and have risen steadily since Cambodia
joined the WTO in October 2004, USTR said.

Major U.S. exports to Cambodia include automobiles,
machinery, textile articles, and fats and oils. U.S. imports
from Cambodia totaled $1.7 billion in 2005, comprised largely
of knit and woven apparel and prepared meat and fish.

Two-way trade between the United States and ASEAN has grown
dramatically over the past decade, and in 2005 totaled $150
billion, making ASEAN the United States' fourth-largest trading
partner, USTR said.