Cambodia-China bilateral trade volume reached over $10 billion in the first ten months of 2023, marking a nearly 5% rise compared to the same period in 2022. Chinese imports to Cambodia accounted for almost 90% of the total, as per the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE).

From January to October 2023, trade between the two nations totalled $10.07 billion, a 4.6% increase from $9.62 billion.

Cambodia’s exports to China were valued at $1.18 billion, a 19.3% increase from $987.87 million in the corresponding period of 2022. Chinese exports to Cambodia for the interval were worth $8.89 billion, up 2.9% from $8.64 billion.

The trade activity resulted in Cambodia’s trade deficit reaching $7.71 billion, compared to $7.65 billion in the same period of 2022. Trade between the two countries constituted 26.03% of Cambodia’s total international trade volume, which was $36.67 billion in the first 10 months of 2023.

According to the GDCE, bilateral trade in October 2023 alone was $967.05 million, up 16.76% from $828.21 million in October 2022. Cambodian exports to China during the month were worth $119.63 million, a 29.5% increase, while imports from China were valued at $847.42 million, a 15.2% increase.

China is currently the Kingdom’s largest trading partner.

Hong Vanak, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, stated on November 13 that enhanced diplomatic and trade relations between the governments and private sectors of the two countries are crucial for boosting their export-import activities, especially in a time of general decline in international trade.

The two countries’ strong relations are bolstered by the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP).

He explained that Cambodia’s exports are significantly lower than its imports from China because Cambodia imports many ingredients and raw materials for production and processing into finished products for international markets.

“China is not only a major purchaser of products, especially agricultural items, from Cambodia but also a key supplier of raw materials for [our] factories and enterprises. The trade in goods between the two countries is expected to continue increasing,” he stated.

He added that most of Cambodia’s exports to China consist of agricultural products and textiles, while Chinese imports to Cambodia are varied, including raw materials for textiles, construction materials, pharmaceuticals, automobiles, machinery, electrical equipment, electronic components, food and agricultural chemicals.

Zhong Jie, economic and trade adviser at the Chinese embassy, committed to promoting Chinese investment in Cambodia during a meeting with Chea Vuthy, secretary general of the Cambodian Investment Board (CIB) at the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) in early September.

“I would like to express my support for the CDC’s efforts and pledge to encourage Chinese investors to work closely with the council to invest more in various areas for sustainable development,” she said.

Vuthy expressed hope for strengthened bilateral investment cooperation. 

The CDC and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce had previously signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen investment and economic cooperation.