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Japanese bilateral trade falls 8%

A worker pedals past container towers at Phnom Penh Autonomous Port in 2021.
A worker pedals past container towers at Phnom Penh Autonomous Port in 2021. Heng Chivoan

Japanese bilateral trade falls 8%

The Kingdom exported $545.011 million worth of merchandise to Japan in the first six months of 2023, edging up by 0.6 per cent year-on-year, as the bilateral trade volume dipped by nearly eight per cent, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE).

The GDCE reported that the volume of goods traded between Cambodia and Japan between January and June totalled $860.276 million, marking a 7.9 per cent slide from $934.143 million a year earlier.

The Kingdom’s imports from the archipelago nation made up 36.6 per cent of that, registering $315.265 million, falling by 19.7 per cent on a yearly basis. This expanded Cambodia’s trade surplus with Japan by 53.8 per cent on-year to $229.746 million for the January-June period.

Japan was Cambodia’s fifth largest trading partner in the six-month period, after China, the US, Vietnam and Thailand.

In June alone, the Cambodia-Japan trade was worth a total of $160.95 million, ticking up by 3.7 per cent year-on-year. The Kingdom’s imports from and exports to the East Asian country amounted to $58.192 million and $102.762 million, respectively, down 23.7 per cent and up 30.1 per cent from the same month last year.

June was the best export month since January, when the Kingdom shipped $104.587 million worth of merchandise to the world’s third largest economy, according to the GDCE.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on July 31 that the uptick in the Kingdom’s exports to Japan – however minor – suggests that Cambodian goods remain in relatively high demand there, despite the challenging global economic climate.

Heng chalked up the increase in part to the two countries’ membership in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – the world’s largest trade pact.

He highlighted garments, footwear, general components and agricultural products as key Cambodian exports to Japan, as well as agricultural and other machinery, vehicles, and electronics as notable imports.

“Trade between the two countries will increase as political and economic conditions improve across the world. Market confidence in Cambodian goods is growing in Japan,” he said.

Heng put the drop in imports from Japan down to Cambodia’s expanding cultivation, processing, manufacturing and production capacity, fuelled by rising domestic consumer demand.

The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) reported that Japan was the fourth biggest investor in the Kingdom in the period between August 5, 1994, when the old Law on Investment was promulgated, and March 31, 2023, after the Greater China region, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam.

Japanese investors in the Kingdom largely operate in industry, banking, hotels and tourism, construction and real estate, and especially supermarkets and retail, restaurants and services.

According to the GDCE, last year, the Cambodia-Japan merchandise trade totalled $1.948 billion, up 12.3 per cent over 2021, with exports to Japan clocking in at $1.173 billion, up 7.3 per cent, and imports $774.989 million, up 21.0 per cent, according to the GDCE. The Kingdom’s trade surplus with Japan narrowed 12.2 per cent to $398.041 million.


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