The exchange of trade between Cambodia and South Korea in 2022 amounted to $778.9 million, up 0.6 per cent over the same period the previous year.

Cambodia’s exports were worth over $233.6 million, up 20 per cent, with imports at nearly $545.3 million, down six per cent, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE).

The Cambodia-Korea free trade agreement (CKFTA) went into effect on December 1, 2022, but the expected benefits that will eventually be reaped from the deal have yet to materialise in the early going.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay said the two nations have been encouraging the use of the CKFTA, and that the Kingdom has strived to attract Korean investors for commodities to export to Korea and then on to third countries.

In addition, he said the two sides would set up a joint committee to monitor and oversee operations and more efficient implementation of the agreement. For Cambodia’s operations in global and regional markets, he noted, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is of vital importance as it is the gateway for the Kingdom’s exports.

“We are proud that Cambodia is on the right path to negotiate to establish those markets. The next work will be our efforts to produce, process, package and strengthen transport systems in relevant areas,” he said.

“For our goods exports, in general, we want higher export figures than import ones, but we have to look at commodities for exports and finished products for imports to Cambodia for now so we are not too worried,” he added.

Thay noted that Cambodia has imported mobile phones, fancy cars, electronics, machinery and so forth. All the goods are expensive and ones that Cambodia cannot produce, thereby bringing high import figures. Cambodia has just exported agricultural products and some other low-priced goods and commodities, he added.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath said CKFTA has encouraged more investors from South Korea to come and boost exports from the Kingdom as it hopes to acquire a flow of new technologies from Korea.

“In recent years, we have observed that Cambodia’s exports to Korea have grown to 10 per cent a year. In addition to mangoes, we are able to export products in the garment sector and some other products,” he said.

The commerce ministry said it expected that the CKFTA would boost Cambodia’s exports to South Korea, like garments and textile products, footwear, handbags, spare parts, electronics, rubber and agricultural products.

The CKFTA followed the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) that came into force on January 1, 2022.

The Kingdom also entered into the RCEP, which covers 15 countries, namely the 10 ASEAN member states and five additional Asia-Pacific nations: Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.