PHNOM PENH, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Companies in Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) in Cambodia have not transshipped products to the United States to avoid tariffs, the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce said in a statement released on Sunday.
The statement came days after U.S. Embassy Spokesman in Cambodia Arend Zwartjes claimed that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had inspected and fined a number of companies inside the SSEZ for evading U.S. tariffs by routing goods through Cambodia.
Zwartjes accused some companies inside the zone of transshipping goods from China such as amino acid, cereal-based foods (corn, rice or cassava), and steel pipes, to the United States to dodge tariffs, according to the statement.
"After assigning experts to investigate the case, the Ministry of Commerce would like to assert that the claim made by the U.S. Embassy official is baseless," the statement said.
It added that in the SSEZ, none of the companies manufactured cereal-based foods and steel pipes, and for amino acid, previously, Infinite Manufacturing Co., Ltd had produced and exported it between Feb. 2015 and Aug. 2017, but not since Sept. 2017.
The statement said the SSEZ has complied well with the rule and law of Cambodia, and all the imports of raw materials and the exports of finished products have been properly recorded.
On Thursday, the SSEZ also issued a statement to deny Zwartjes' allegations.
"Sihanoukville Special Economy Zone Co., Ltd. has paid high attention to this issue and immediately conducted an investigation. The results show that 29 enterprises at present in SSEZ with products exporting to the USA have not been investigated or punished by the U.S. Customs recently," the statement said.
"We deeply regret the damage to the reputation of (the) SSEZ caused by the above false reports," it added.
Established in 2008, the 1,113-hectare SSEZ is situated about 12 km from the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port in southwestern Cambodia's Preah Sihanouk province.