The United States-Cambodia Relationship
The Secretary will travel to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from August 2-6 to participate in the ASEAN-related ministerial meetings. He will also hold bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn. The Secretary, the Prime Minister, and the Deputy Prime Minister will discuss important areas of mutual concern, such as DPRK sanctions enforcement, law enforcement and child protection, the crisis in Burma, global health security, climate change, condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Cambodia’s support for establishing the U.S.-ASEAN Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The Secretary will emphasize improvement in our bilateral relationship is contingent upon Cambodian leadership taking meaningful steps to address concerns about the PRC’s military presence at Ream Naval Base, democratic backsliding, and respect for human rights and labor rights.
U.S.-Cambodia relations are based on strong historical and cultural linkages. Enduring ties between the American and Cambodian people, as well as cooperation on UN matters and on foreign assistance programs, provide avenues to engage on a range of bilateral, regional, and global issues. The United States lauds Cambodia’s condemnation of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
The United States urges Cambodia to be fully transparent about present and future PRC activities at Ream Naval Base, to support multi-party democracy and independent democratic institutions, and to make progress on protecting and respecting human rights, including freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly.
The United States also urges Cambodia to take meaningful steps to reopen political and civic space. We also urge Cambodia to do more to address systemic corruption and trafficking in persons, which inhibit Cambodia’s development.
The United States is committed to the Cambodian people and their aspirations for a more prosperous, democratic, and independent country, where all voices are heard and respected and the Kingdom’s autonomy is protected.
The United States thanks Cambodia for its leadership of ASEAN during a challenging year and looks forward to finding ways to improve relations between our two countries. We want to see Cambodia succeed.
U.S. Assistance to Cambodia
With U.S. support, the Kingdom has experienced decades of robust economic growth and made significant progress toward achieving its Sustainable Development Goals, including by reducing poverty and addressing the remnants of past conflicts.
Over the last 30 years, the United States has provided $3 billion in foreign assistance for health, including health security; education; food security; economic growth; national reconciliation; the environment; and clearance of unexploded ordnance and landmines.
U.S. agencies have cooperated closely with Cambodia in navigating the global pandemic by providing technical assistance, $15.3 million in supplemental emergency funds to support COVID-19 response needs, and donating over three million safe and effective vaccine doses in partnership with COVAX.
The United States has helped improve labor conditions in the Cambodian garment sector for more than 20 years by supporting the International Labor Organization’s “Better Factories Cambodia” factory monitoring program — considered a model for similar programs worldwide.
U.S. law enforcement agencies have provided training and cooperation on child protection, DPRK sanctions enforcement, and trafficking in persons.
People-to-People Ties Play an Important Role in U.S.-Cambodia Relations
Many Cambodians have personal ties to the United States; some are dual U.S.-Cambodian citizens, have relatives among the 300,000 Cambodian-Americans in the United States, or have a U.S. education.
U.S. efforts in Cambodia aim to engage youth, women, and minority populations to advocate for inclusive governance; build the voice of civil society; promote democratic principles and human rights; and engage with entrepreneurs to improve regional interconnectivity and increase U.S. trade opportunities.
Since 2012, the Ambassador’s Youth Council has enhanced our people-to-people diplomacy through direct, regular engagement between the Ambassador and diverse cohorts of young leaders from around the
U.S. assistance programs have built the capacity of future generations, benefitted farmers and rural poor households, supported indigenous communities, and improved the livelihoods of millions of Cambodians.
Over 3,500 Cambodians have participated in U.S.-funded exchange programs. The Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI), International Visitor Leadership Program, and Fulbright Programs provide an opportunity to engage with S. students and professionals and provide emerging Cambodian leaders with knowledge of U.S. foreign policy, rule of law, global security, and American culture.
U.S.-funded English language fellows and Peace Corps volunteers have provided English language skills for thousands of young Cambodians.
The United States and Cambodia have a decades-long record of working successfully together on the protection and preservation of Cambodia’s cultural heritage. Through a bilateral cultural property MOU in effect since 2003, the United States has facilitated the return of scores of priceless Khmer artifacts looted from Cambodia. Through the Department’s U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, the United States has invested $4.5 million in the preservation of Cambodia’s cultural sites and collections, including at Angkor Archaeological Park and other iconic monuments.
U.S.-Cambodia Economic and Health Cooperation
The United States is Cambodia’s largest export market by far, accounting for over 40 percent of Cambodia’s total exports. The country has benefitted greatly from the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).
Cambodia exported $8.7 billion of goods in 2021 to the United States, an increase of 33 percent from 2020. The garment, footwear, and travel goods sectors make up the majority of Cambodia’s exports and together employ over 1 million Cambodians, the majority of whom are women.
Since 1992, as part of the United States’ foreign assistance activities, the United States has invested more than $377 million in health assistance in Cambodia to address infant and maternal mortality, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and nutrition and to strengthen Cambodia’s ability to finance and manage logistics and information for its health systems.
The U.S. government invests substantially in Cambodia’s resilience against future pandemics by supporting improvements to global health security capacities under the Global Health Security Agenda.
Additional support for the COVID-19 response has been delivered through CDC, NIH, and Naval Advanced Medical Research Unit (NAMRU) personnel based at Embassy Phnom Penh. CDC has invested in building workforce capacity, establishing surveillance, and providing technical assistance for pandemic preparedness and response for over 20 years, including the response to COVID-19 and the global monkeypox outbreak.