The bilateral merchandise trade volume between Cambodia and Japan totalled $1.948 billion in 2022, rising by 12.33 per cent over a year earlier, with Cambodian exports accounting for a 60.22 per cent share, down by 2.85 percentage points on a yearly basis, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

Last year, Cambodian goods exports to and imports from Japan amounted to $1.173 billion and $774.989 million, respectively, up 7.26 per cent and 21.0 per cent year-on-year, narrowing the Kingdom’s trade surplus with the archipelago nation by 12.15 per cent to $398.041 million versus $453.116 million in 2021.

Japan was the fourth largest buyer of Cambodian merchandise in 2022, accounting for 5.22 per cent of the global total of $22.483 billion.

Last month alone, the Cambodian-Japanese merchandise trade was to the tune of $158.58 million, up 4.29 per cent from $152.05 million in December 2021 and up 16.34 per cent from $136.31 million in November 2022.

The Kingdom’s exports accounted for $103.66 million, up 12.1 per cent year-on-year and up 28.0 per cent month-on-month, while imports came to $54.91 million, down nearly eight per cent year-on-year and down 0.75 per cent month-on-month.

The December figures for two-way trade and exports ended a string of monthly declines recorded since the annual peaks in July of $203.38 million and $126.17 million, respectively.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng could not be reached for comment by press time.

However, in a previous interview with The Post, he commented that Cambodian-Japanese trade had been on the rise, buoyed by good diplomatic relations and growing Japanese investment in export-oriented production in the Kingdom.

He views Japan’s industrial growth and high quality of life as an opportunity for Cambodia to export agricultural products and labour-intensive commodities.

“As I see it, the Japanese market will continue to absorb Cambodian goods, especially agricultural products of which Cambodia produces heaps of each year.

“However, we need to keep in mind that the Japanese market demands high standards, so we need to refine the quality of our products, to be able to gain greater market share,” Heng said.

Speaking to The Post on January 16, Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, credited the on-year growth in the two-way merchandise trade volume to limited production disruptions in light of heightened fuel prices and other economic woes linked to the Ukraine conflict, along with the resulting uptick in Cambodian goods on the Japanese market.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) also provides a significant boost to trade between Cambodia, Japan and the other 13 member states, he noted.

“Japan can be considered a large market for Cambodian goods, and Cambodia exports goods to Japan such as textiles and agricultural products as well as electrical and electronic components,” he said, adding that an increasing number of Japanese companies are operating in the Kingdom.

According to the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), Japan is the fifth biggest investor in Cambodia after China, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam. Japanese investors in the Kingdom largely operate in industry, banking, hotels and tourism, construction and real estate, and especially supermarkets and retail, restaurants and services.

Last year, the Cambodia-Japan merchandise trade totalled $1.734 billion, up 1.21 per cent over 2020, with exports to Japan clocking in at $1.094 billion, up 2.95 per cent, and imports $640.513 million, down 1.63 per cent, according to the GDCE. The Kingdom’s trade surplus with Japan expanded 10.2 per cent to $453.116 million.