Hopes Fade for Cambodia Winning US Debt Relief, Analysts Say

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[pliː] (noun)
– an urgent or emotional request for something
e.g.The villagers affected by the flood made a desperate plea for help.

[riːˈstrəktʃər] (verb)
– to organize something such as a system or a company in a new and different way
e.g.The company closed some of its offices when it restructured its business.

[ˈmæntrə] (noun)
– a word, phrase or sound that is repeated again and again
e.g.I don’t want to listen to your usual mantra about the traffic. Just try to arrive on time tomorrow!

rack up
[ˈrækˈəp] (phrasal verb)
– to get a large number or amount of something
e.g.The company racked up 600 million dollars in profits over ten years.

[ˌʌndərˈmaɪn] (verb)
– to make something, especially somebody’s confidence or authority, gradually weaker or less effective
e.g.His confidence in his abilities has really been undermined by his recent failures.

in arrears
[ɪn əˈrɪrz] (phrase)
– late in making a regular payment
e.g.He could not purchase a new laptop because he was already three months in arrears with the rent.


Hopes Fade for Cambodia Winning US Debt Relief, Analysts Say

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s recent plea for relief from decades-old debt to the United States appears to have little chance of success, regional analysts say.

Cambodians, they say, would be better off seeking to restructure the debt, easing the repayment burden. But Hun Sen is sticking with his mantra and has repeatedly noted the debt issue in public since Donald Trump was elected U.S. president in November.

Cambodia racked up $278 million in U.S. loans under the Lon Nol government in the 1970s, whose efforts to defeat the Khmer Rouge were undermined by gross corruption within his own administration. U.S. records say the loans were for food and other agricultural goods.

But the amount has gone up sharply over the years due to interest.

Cambodia now owes the U.S. about $505 million, all in arrears with a three percent interest rate, which is below market rates.

“We believe resolving the issue would be in both countries’ interest,” said Jay Raman, public affairs officer with the U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh. “The United States has encouraged Cambodia to work with us on finding a solution to the debt since shortly after the 1995 Paris Club negotiations.”

Cambodia does not suffer from the same poverty levels as it once did. It was recently promoted to the ranks of the lower-middle income countries and despite this, the U.S. allocates an average of about $70 million a year in direct foreign aid. It has committed $78 million for 2017.

Sambo Manara, a history lecturer with Pannasastra University said it remains unclear whether the U.S. money was debt or humanitarian aid because it arrived during a difficult period in Cambodia’s history, during a civil war, and as the Khmer Rouge militants were threatening the government.


1What for did the U.S. lend $278 million to Cambodia in the 1970s?
2What was the interest rate for these loans?
3How much money does Cambodia receive from the U.S. on a yearly basis?
4Why is it difficult to determine what the aid received from the U.S. was used for?


1What do you think about Cambodia’s foreign debt issue?
2Does you country have a large foreign debt?
3Would you feel comfortable having personal debt? Why or why not?


Advanced Exercises

The following exercises are for an additional lesson.


Please make a short summary of the article that you have just read. (1-2 minutes)

For and Against

Bring arguments first in favor of, and then against the idea that the U.S. shouldn’t keep giving Cambodia financial aid because the country’s economy has improved. (2-3 minutes each)

Discussion 2

1In what situations can a country receive foreign aid?
2Has your country received foreign aid recently? If yes, for what purpose?
3Does your country provide a lot of foreign aid? Why or why not?
4Have you ever lent money to somebody? Why or why not?
5Have you ever contributed to a disaster relief fund? Why or why not?
6Do you often donate money to people in need? Why or why not?
7What would you say about the poverty levels in your country?
8What can be done to help poor people gain economic stability?
9For the United States, supporting international development is more than just an expression of our compassion. It is a vital investment in the free, prosperous, and peaceful international order that fundamentally serves our national interest. Condoleezza Rice. What do you think about this statement?
10Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room. Christine Todd Whitman. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?

Quoted from VOA:

*The present article might have been slightly altered to suit the purpose of English study.
*The original article is subject to deletion or changes by the publisher.