Bilateral trade volume between Cambodia and the UK reached $813.22 million in the first 11 months of this year, falling 17.61 per cent from the $987.09 million logged in the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Cambodia’s exports were worth $766.77 million, down 16.02 per cent from the $913.01 million posted in the first 11 months of last year, the ministry said, citing data from the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia.

Cambodia’s imports were valued at $46.45 million for the period, tumbling 37.30 per cent year-on-year from $74.08 million.

Most of Cambodia’s exports to the UK comprised clothing, footwear, bicycles, milled rice and agricultural products, while its imports mainly consisted of cars and machinery, the ministry said.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on December 21 that the spread of Covid-19 had led to a decline in international trade in almost all sectors, with food and agriculture as notable exceptions.

This led to an inevitable reduction in shipments bound for the UK from Cambodia, which exports a great deal of products to the European country, he said, stressing the small scale of the decline.

“A slight decrease in trade volume now is not uncommon, due to trade in every country in the world being like this.

“The only countries that did not experience a [significant] impact on international trade during this period were exporters of food and agricultural products,” Heng said.

British ambassador to Cambodia Tina Redshaw last week said the UK would implement a trade policy independent of the EU’s from January 1 and would not continue the partial suspension of the bloc’s preferential system from Cambodia within the framework of its Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.

Redshaw made the comment during a meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn.

The CCC’s Heng said exports from Cambodia to the UK will increase significantly from next year.

“This is a good sign for the Cambodian export market, because through the UK, some of the products that we used to export to the EU market can be diverted to the UK first before being redistributed to the EU market,” he said.

Commerce ministry spokesman Seang Thay told The Post that the main reasons for the dip in bilateral trade were Covid-19-induced complications in exports, imports and transport, and a contraction in the global economy.

“Economic slumps the world over have stymied demand for goods, which has influenced our exports,” he said.

Thay said reinstatement of preferences to Cambodia would significantly boost trade and encourage all-round cooperation between the two countries.

“Calculations show that Cambodia stands to benefit from $30 million a year in tax exemptions”, he said.

After reaching a free trade agreement (FTA) with China, Cambodia is currently negotiating similar deals with the UK, South Korea, the US, Japan, Mongolia, India and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) bloc composed of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia.