BILATERAL trade between South Korea and Cambodia surged by 31 percent in the first quarter of the year compared to the first quarter of 2009, amid claims that much-needed garment orders have increased in the Kingdom.
According to preliminary figures from the Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), released Wednesday, trade increased to US$31.7 million in the first quarter of 2010, from $24.2 million in the same period last year.
Cambodia’s exports to South Korea hit $4.3 million, up from $1.6 million. Korea’s exports to Cambodia rose more than 21 percent to more than $27.4 million, from around $22.6 million last year period.
Officials said Wednesday that the significant improvement in trade was due to increased rubber demand and movement in the garment industry.
Nam-Shik Kang, chairman of the Korean Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (KOCHAM), wrote in an email that garment orders from the US and Canada were “rushing” to Cambodia – increasing South Korean exports of raw materials to the Kingdom.
He also warned that Cambodia has to remain competitive in order to receive orders in a market that includes Vietnam and Indonesia.
Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia, confirmed in an email Wednesday that he had seen indicators of positive movement within the garment sector, which was hit hard by the economic crisis.
“We are seeing more orders coming in,” he wrote.
“I have to emphasise that the prices of such orders are still very low. I have not seen that data between Cambodia and South Korea, although I would assume we are starting from a very low base,” he added.
According to the KOTRA data, Cambodia’s main exports to Korea were clothes and accessories, which were up 185 percent, with metal products up 124 percent. South Korea’s exports to Cambodia included garment materials, up 32 percent, and road vehicles, up 30 percent.
President of Cambodian Economic Association (CEA), Chan Sophal, tentatively welcomed the garment developments.
The data emphasises “our achievements in market expansion of garment exports – but it is still [a] small amount comparing to [the] US and some other countries,” he said.
US embassy spokesman John Johnson said by email that as the US economy recovers, so will demand for goods.