US fines companies exporting goods via Cambodia to dodge Trump’s trade war tariffs on China
- The companies were located in a Chinese-owned special economic zone in Cambodia, said a US embassy official
- China is Cambodia’s biggest aid donor and investor, pouring in billions of dollars in development assistance and loans through the Belt and Road Initiative
“These companies are located in Cambodia’s Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone,” said Zwartjes, who did not name or say how many companies had been fined for avoiding the tariffs, how large the fines were, or what goods the companies had been exporting.
Zwartjes referred further questions to the US Department of Homeland Security, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent outside of office hours.
Cambodia’s customs department and foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), 210km west of the capital, Phnom Penh, is a Chinese and Cambodian joint venture in the belt and road initiative which produces textiles, garments, bags and leather products, according to its website.
The zone did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Kaing Monika, Deputy Secretary General of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia (GMAC), which represents 600 garment factories in Cambodia, said he was unaware of the transshipments.
The US$7-billion apparel industry is the largest formal employer in the Southeast Asian country. Cambodia’s economy grew 7.5 per cent last year, a four-year high, compared with 7 per cent in 2017, helped by rising exports to the US, said the World Bank in April.