Cambodia exported $99.07 million worth of merchandise to South Korea in the first quarter of 2021, marking a marginal increase of more than five per cent from $93.85 in January-March of last year despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, according to data from the Korea International Trade Association (Kita).
Bilateral trade with the East Asian nation gained 1.8 per cent from $241.7 to $246.0 million and imports fell 0.6 per cent from $147.84 to $146.94 million, narrowing the trade deficit by more than 11 per cent from $54.0 to $47.9 million.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on April 18 that the value of exports surged in part due to the efforts of the two governments to establish a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA).
Cambodia and South Korea concluded negotiations on a bilateral FTA in early February and are scheduled to sign the deal in June.
Despite the small uptick, Vanak pointed out that this combined with a dip in imports highlights the continued strengthening of Cambodian domestic production.
He added that the February 20 community event and following lockdown measures imposed by the government in the capital and adjacent Takhmao town in Kandal province inevitably had an impact on the trade figures and would continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng echoed Vanak’s comment that the increased value of exports showcases the improved performance of the manufacturing industry, saying that the Kingdom is cranking out more products that meet buyers’ quality requirements.
"The improvement of international relations and markets, as well as continuous diversification, has made Cambodia more productive and boosted exports to countries around the world, including [South] Korea," he said.
However, Heng said, export growth could cool in the second quarter as factories in the capital and Kandal are forced to suspend their operations in light of the lockdowns and mounting reported Covid-19 infections.