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Bilateral trade with Japan slightly down but outlook optimistic

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Garment workers sew clothes at Phnom Penh garment factory last year. Post Staff

Bilateral trade with Japan slightly down but outlook optimistic

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Japan was to the tune of $1.54832 billion in the first nine months of this year, down from $1.67958 billion in the year-ago period, data from state-run agency Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) show.

The 2019 figure had been a 13.9 per cent increase from the same period in 2018.

The Kingdom exported $1.20998 billion worth of goods to Japan during the period, down 5.6 per cent year-on-year from $1.28122 billion. Imports from Japan were worth $339.33 million, down 14.8 per cent year-on-year from $398.35 million.

Seemingly unfazed by the statistics, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on Sunday that diplomatic relations and trade cooperation with Japan had seen progressive improvement.

“The decline is small. Covid-19 has significantly reduced demand for consumer goods, and on the other hand, Cambodia-Japan air travel has not yet begun,” he said.

In an optimistic tone, Heng asserted that trade between the Kingdom and Japan would soon recover on hopes of good news on a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Clothing, footwear, electronic components and bicycles comprise the bulk of Cambodia’s exports to Japan. Arrivals from Japan mostly consist of electronics and finished products.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Hong Vanak chalked up the diminished export figures to muted demand driven down by lockdown restrictions, competition with other countries, a lack of production capacity and limited qualified products in the Kingdom that meet Japanese standards.

“Cambodia needs to improve its productivity and have concrete policies in place to be ready to tap its export potential to the world’s markets,” he said.

On November 2, the National Assembly approved the First Protocol to Amend the Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Partnership among Japan and Member States of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (AJCEP – 1st Protocol).

Cambodia expects to expand its market to Japan and woo more investors from the economic powerhouse of the Pacific through the perks provided by the protocol.

The Kingdom exported more than $1.7 billion in goods to Japan last year, up 7.7 per cent from 2018, Jetro data show.

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