Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia-Indonesia goods trade balloons by 48% in 2022

Cambodia-Indonesia goods trade balloons by 48% in 2022

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia's exports accounted for just over $3.5 million, up 33 per cent year-on-year but down 12 per cent month-on-month, while imports came to nearly $114.8 million, up 65.0 per cent year-on-year and up 111.3 per cent month-on-month. Heng Chivoan

Cambodia-Indonesia goods trade balloons by 48% in 2022

The merchandise trade volume between Cambodia and Indonesia totalled $948.533 million in 2022, surging by 48.27 per cent over a year earlier, with Cambodian imports constituting a 96.12 per cent share, inching up by 1.08 percentage points on a yearly basis, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

In 2022, Cambodian goods exports to and imports from Indonesia amounted to $36.839 million and $911.694 million, respectively, up 15.9 per cent and 49.96 per cent year-on-year, expanding the Kingdom’s trade deficit with the archipelago nation by 51.84 per cent to $874.854 million, from $576.167 million in 2021.

Last month alone, the Cambodian-Indonesian merchandise trade volume was to the tune of $118.29 million, up 63.8 per cent from $72.20 million in December 2021 and up 102.9 per cent from $58.30 million in November 2022.

The Kingdom’s exports accounted for just over $3.5 million, up 33 per cent year-on-year but down 12 per cent month-on-month, while imports came to nearly $114.8 million, up 65.0 per cent year-on-year and up 111.3 per cent month-on-month.

December was the best month for both two-way trade and Cambodian exports to Indonesia last year, with May in second-place recording $96.20 million and $94.60 million, while the top two for imports were September and July at $5.19 million and $4.16 million, GDCE statistics indicate.

The Kingdom’s free trade agreements (FTA) have become a big draw for Indonesian and other foreign investors, particularly the bilateral deals with China and South Korea, as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told the Post on January 19.

He assured that trade deficits are not necessarily bad news, reasoning in Cambodia’s case that, as a developing country with limited resources, the Kingdom requires raw materials and equipment to be brought in from abroad to fulfil local demand, including for the production and processing of export goods.

“It’s important to look at export markets, as the prospects for Cambodia’s overseas sales are brighter than ever,” Heng opined.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC), was not so quick to dismiss the Kingdom’s trade deficit with Indonesia as of little consequence.

The local export community must take a hard look and identify the Kingdom’s most valuable commodities, should it seek to notably ratchet up exports, he suggested, arguing for the merit of penetrating the Indonesian market with as many Cambodian goods as possible.

According to Trading Economics, out of Cambodia’s $31.78 million worth of goods exports to Indonesia in 2021, “knitted or crocheted fabrics” accounted for the most at $6.40 million, followed by “glass and glassware” ($5.97 million), “articles of apparel and clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted” ($5.13 million), and “Footwear, gaiters and the like” ($3.58 million).

The next four items were: “articles of apparel and clothing accessories, not knitted or crocheted” ($3.22 million), “printed books, newspapers, pictures” ($1.29 million), “miscellaneous articles of base metal” ($1.23 million) and “electrical, electronic equipment” ($1.13 million).

For reference, the eight categories respectively correspond to chapters 60, 70, 61, 64, 62, 49, 83 and 85 of the harmonised tariff schedule.

The RAC’s Vanak pointed out that Indonesia is ASEAN’s most populous nation and largest economy as well as a member of the Group of 20 (G20) – an intergovernmental forum made up of 19 countries and the EU, representing most of the world's largest economies.

“Delving into the demand as well as the production of goods befitting the Indonesian market is an opportunity to bridge the bilateral trade gap,” he said, underscoring that a decisive uptick in Indonesian investors within the local ecosystem could secure an appreciable improvement in exports.

Interestingly, the Ministry of Tourism tallied an all-time record of 75,653 Indonesian visitors to Cambodia last year, of which the majority had their purpose of visit marked “business”, at 55,107, followed by “holiday”(20,328) and “others” (218) – compared to second-place 2019’s 66,804 (26,410 business; 38,530 holiday; 1,864 others).

The increase in Indonesian business travellers could be attributed to the establishment of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (IndoCham) on September 23, 2021, as well as a number of key business-related events that have paved the way for partnerships between public and private organisations of both countries.

Sok Chenda Sophea, secretary-general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the government's highest decision-making body for large-scale investments, was particularly confident in the fruits that the February 22, 2022 Indonesia-Cambodia Investment Dialogue would yield.

Chenda Sophea said he expected that, as a result of the dialogue, the Indonesian business community could gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the new Law on Investment, and thereby help persuade more investors from the archipelago nation to bet on the Kingdom.

At the event, Indonesian ambassador Sudirman Haseng vowed that his embassy would work with IndoCham to promote trade between the two Southeast Asian countries and attract investment to the Kingdom.

The embassy and IndoCham “will work with relevant Cambodian ministries and institutions to bolster Indonesian investment in Cambodia further”, he affirmed.

The dialogue was held at the CDC, and organised in collaboration with the embassy and IndoCham.

On the occasion, the CDC’s Chenda Sophea commented that, historically, Indonesian investors active in Cambodia have been significant contributors to the Kingdom’s economic growth.

He also shared an optimistic outlook on prospects for investment from Indonesia, voicing hope that more Indonesian investors would enter the Cambodian market, drawn in by the huge benefits offered by the Kingdom’s FTAs.


  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,

  • Capital-Poipet express rail project making headway

    The preliminary results of a feasibility study to upgrade the Phnom Penh-Poipet railway into Cambodia’s first express railway indicate that the project would cost more than $4 billion and would take around four years to complete. The study was carried out by China Road and

  • Thai boxers to join SEA Games’ Kun Khmer event

    The Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC) – together with the Kun Khmer International Federation (KKIF) and Khmer Boxing Federation – have achieved a “great success” by including Kun Khmer in the upcoming biennial multi-sports event on its home soil for the first time, said a senior

  • Bullets to bracelets: Siem Reap man makes waste from war wearable

    Jewellery is often made from valuable gemstones like emeralds or diamonds and precious metals like gold or silver, or valueless things like animal horns. But a man in Siem Reap has approached the manufacture of delicate pieces from a different angle. His unique form of

  • 61% of 2022 imports came from just 3 markets

    The three largest exporters to Cambodia – mainland China, Vietnam and Thailand – accounted for 60.94 per cent of the Kingdom’s total merchandise imports last year, at $18.245 billion, which was up 11.99 per cent over 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise. Cambodia’s total imports