His Excellency Pan Sorasak, Minister of Commerce; Mr. Van Sou Ieng, Chairman of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I am very pleased to be here this evening, and I thank GMAC for hosting this beautiful reception on behalf of our guest, Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative Erland Herfindahl.
Deputy Assistant Herfindahl has come to Cambodia to celebrate a major expansion of the Generalized System of Preferences program to include travel goods and accessories. This extension of the GSP program will help diversify the country’s economic base and alleviate poverty. It is a rare opportunity for Cambodia to build a world-class export industry from the ground up. Furthermore, the increased export of travel goods to the United States could create up to 100,000 new jobs for Cambodian workers and develop Cambodia’s reputation as a supplier of travel goods.
GSP is a 40-year-old program, and as you know, its benefits depend on maintaining high-quality labor standards. It requires beneficiary countries such as Cambodia to continue taking steps to protect internationally-recognized labor rights. Higher labor standards attract higher-quality and more stable investment, so we hope to see Cambodia continue down this path.
I am pleased to see the turnout here tonight, which reflects the growing economic relationship between the United States and Cambodia. The United States remains Cambodia’s largest trading partner and export market. In 2014, U.S. foreign direct investment in Cambodia was $77.0 million, up 20% from the previous year. As I expect this expansion of the GSP to prove, our relationship still has room to grow, and it will.
Thank you all very much once again. And now, I would like to introduce to you Erland Herfindahl, Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative.