Services WTO (Negotiations, Regular Work, Leadership)

Enabling LDC Suppliers To Benefit From The WTO Services Waiver: The case of modern services in Cambodia

This note provides insights on capacity building and technical assistance needs of Cambodian services suppliers, to address their supply-side constraints and benefit from preferential treatment under the WTO’s LDC Services Waiver. It starts with a status update on Cambodia’s services exports, before providing an overview of how the Waiver addressed modern services exports of interest to Cambodia. The note finally highlights supply-side challenges and suggests sector-specific capacity building and technical assistance to complement the Waiver and empower suppliers.

Since the adoption of the least developed countries (LDCs) services waiver in 2011 and the notification of granted preferences by WTO Members in 2015, emphasis has been made on the need for accompanying technical assistance and capacity building to ensure LDC service suppliers will be able to utilise these preferences. This Note focuses on Cambodia, an LDC and a net exporter of services in South-East Asia.

The traditional tourism and travel sectors dominate Cambodia’s services exports, which were particularly hit during the pandemic. At the same time, suppliers of modern services, such as communication, computer-related and financial, including banking services, are striving to export niche quality services. While some WTO Members notified preferences for these modern services, benefits to suppliers in Cambodia are not automatic.

Addressing supply-side constraints through capacity building and technical assistance is necessary to enhance Cambodia’s modern services suppliers’ competitiveness and unleash their potential to fully take advantage of the preferences granted under the LDC services waiver.