Cambodia has imported iron and steel worth over $84 million in the first quarter of 2022 – an increase of over three per cent compared to the same period last year, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

The GDCE said that during the first three months, iron and steel imports totalled $84.08 million – an increase of 3.5 per cent over the same period in 2021, when $81.23 million was recorded.

Last month alone, iron and steel imports accounted for $26.29 million – a drop of 12.1 per cent from $29.9 million over the same period last year.

Huy Vanna, secretary-general of advisory firm Housing Development Association of Cambodia (HDAC), told The Post that while there had been a marked decline in condominium construction during the Covid-19 era, work on other housing developments such as gated communities – known locally as Borey – has picked up. This has kept demand for iron and steel at normal levels, he said.

Although noting that housing demand was on the decline, Vanna said developers were still toiling away to complete existing projects, many of which have been fraught with delays since 2021.

Moreover, he said, prices of new homes have risen “a bit” over last year, pushed up by an uptick in costs for iron, steel, and “virtually all” construction materials.

The per-tonne prices of structural steel have climbed up to $800-900, from $600-700 last year, he added. “The rise in the costs of construction materials, especially iron and steel, may be due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the increase in fuel prices, which has also led to higher transport prices.”

Cambodia Constructors Association general manager and secretary Chiv Sivpheng told The Post that although the Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted some major development projects, especially those owned by local investors, construction was ongoing, citing Borey as examples.

He said construction remained underway while transactions had generally proceeded smoothly.

“The growth of private housing projects and Borey construction has increased the demand for steel imports in the construction sector. This growth will continue to gain momentum as the reopening of the country will attract more new international investors to Cambodia,” he said.

He says the Kingdom generally imports iron and steel from markets such as Vietnam, Thailand, China and South Korea.

Amid the pandemic in early December 2020, Chinese-owned Hong De Sheng (Cambodia) Steel Co Ltd’s $16.7 million steelworks in Kampong Speu province began operations. The factory reportedly boasts a production capacity of 500,000 tonnes of steel in its initial stage.

In 2021, a total of 4,303 new construction projects were approved nationwide, with cumulative registered capital investment of $5,333,798,525 – down by 31.21 per cent year-on-year – and total floor area of 12,998,072sqm, Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction data shows.