Currently, Cambodia is benefiting from a preferential trade deal with the EU known as Everything but Arms (EBA) but there are fears this will be withdrawn later this month amid allegations of human rights breaches.
Although the UK will be bound by EU rules during a so-called transition period lasting until December 31, the Cambodian government hopes that if the privilege is removed it will then be restored by the UK next year.
The UK officially left the EU after nearly five decades of membership, meaning it is no longer part of the largest trading bloc in the world currently numbering 27 countries and is keen to find new trading partners.
Ky Sereyvuth, an economics professor and also director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s Centre for China Studies, told Khmer Times on February 3 that he had learned the UK will seek to maintain a special trade privilege for Cambodia, citing that the official Brexit deal will give right the UK to do so – but possibly only after the transition period ends.
Sereyvuth said he expected that the two countries would likely begin discussing a free trade agreement this year.
During her visit to Cambodia last year, Heather Wheeler, UK Minister of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for Asia and the Pacific, said that Cambodia is among 48 less-developed countries that will retain trade privileges in the UK market.