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Cambodia-ASEAN trade dips 17% to $7.1B in H1

Cargo containers seen at Phnom Penh Autonomous Port in Kandal province.
Cargo containers seen at Phnom Penh Autonomous Port in Kandal province. Heng Chivoan

Cambodia-ASEAN trade dips 17% to $7.1B in H1

The volume of goods exchanged between Cambodia and the other nine ASEAN member states in the first half of 2023 reached $7.139 billion, down 17.2 per cent year-on-year and down 3.9 per cent half-on-half, according to statistics from the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE).

The Southeast Asian bloc accounted for 30.13 per cent of the Kingdom’s $23.694 billion in international trade for the six-month period. These figures were nearly 31.7 per cent and $27.244 billion in the first half of 2022.

The data, published by the GDCE and Ministry of Commerce, indicates that Cambodia’s exports to and imports from the nine countries during the period came in at $2.481 billion and $4.659 billion, respectively, up 36 per cent and down 31 per cent year-on-year, narrowing the Kingdom’s trade deficit with the region by 56 per cent on an annual basis to $2.18 billion.

Vietnam was Cambodia’s largest trade partner in ASEAN in the first half with $3.302 billion worth of merchandise exchanged, up 1.25 per cent year-on-year, followed by Thailand ($1.976B; down 13.99%) and Singapore ($786.774M; down 62.16%).

Rounding out the list were Indonesia ($594.370M; up 27.76%), Malaysia ($317.197M; down 2.58%), Laos ($93.37M; down 13%), the Philippines ($42.78M; down 33.2%), Myanmar ($14.06M; up 2%) and Brunei ($12.81M; up 13%).

Vietnam was also Cambodia’s top ASEAN export destination during the same period, accounting for $1.430 billion, up 21.67 per cent year-on-year, followed by Thailand ($527.886M; up 6.48%) and Singapore ($415.012M; up 565.2%).

Next up were Malaysia ($48.649M; down 5.80%), the Philippines ($32.66M; up 63%), Indonesia ($21.232M; up 63.0%), Laos ($2.80M; up 46%), Brunei ($1.89M; down 68%) and Myanmar ($1.00M; up 61%).

It then comes as no surprise that Vietnam was Cambodia’s number-one import source for the January-June period, with a total of $1.873 billion, down nearly 10.25 per cent year-on-year, followed by Thailand ($1.448B; down 19.63%) and Indonesia ($573.137M; up 26.75%).

Coming in at fourth through tenth were Singapore ($371.761M; down 81.57%), Malaysia ($268.548M; down 1.97%), Laos ($90.56M; down 14%), Myanmar ($13.06M; down 1%), Brunei ($10.93M; up 99%) and the Philippines ($10.12M; down 77%).

Cambodia had trade surpluses with only Singapore and the Philippines, to the tune of $43.251 million and $23 million, respectively, compared to deficits of $1.954 billion and $23.9 million in the year-ago period.

Although a detailed breakdown by commodity was not immediately available, the commerce ministry says that typical Cambodian exports within ASEAN comprise agricultural products, garments, footwear, bags, electronics and bicycles.

Conventional imports include food and beverages, electrical and electronic equipment, construction materials, agricultural machinery and vehicles.

Ministry secretary of state Penn Sovicheat mainly pinned the decline in Cambodia-ASEAN trade volume on regional and global demand shifts driven by the Russo-Ukrainian conflict.

“From our perspective, the protracted war between Russia and Ukraine is the main factor limiting people’s consumption, even though across most of the ASEAN market, we are complementary. Any drop in global demand has an impact on our regional trade as well,” he told The Post on July 23.

Sovicheat affirmed that processed and unprocessed agricultural products, foodstuffs and garments account for the bulk of Cambodia’s trade with its ASEAN peers.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economist Ky Sereyvath pointed out that there is substantial overlap between ASEAN countries’ export portfolios, but downplayed competition concerns by highlighting the strong trade complementarity among them.

Offering an example, Sereyvath cited the fact that ASEAN nations continue to be major consumers of Cambodian agricultural goods.

“When member states run out of raw materials, they’ll import from us, and we’ll also import things from them that we don’t make locally, in order to meet demand,” he added.

An earlier report from the ministry indicated that the volume of goods traded between Cambodia and the nine other ASEAN countries reached $16.053 billion in 2022 – up 1.4 per cent from $15.838 million in 2021 – making up 30.62 per cent of the Kingdom’s $52.425 billion in total international trade for the year, down from 32.99 per cent in 2021.

Cambodian exports to the nine countries rose by 13 per cent from $2.914 billion in 2021 to $3.297 billion last year, constituting 14.7 per cent of the $22.483 billion in total exports.

On the other hand, Cambodian imports from these markets inched down by 1.3 per cent from $12.924 billion in 2021 to $12.756 billion last year, comprising 42.60 per cent of the $29.942 billion in total imports.

Vietnam and Thailand alone accounted for 67.28 per cent of the value of goods exchanged between Cambodia and the nine other ASEAN countries, at $6.136 billion and $4.664 billion, respectively, rising by 19.64 per cent and 14.22 per cent on a yearly basis.


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