Cambodia's exports to Australia reached $236.92 million in the first eight months of 2023, marking a six per cent decline from the $252.16 million recorded during the same period last year, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE). Concurrently, imports from Australia dropped by 13.8 per cent, from $115.23 million to $99.29 million.

This puts the total trade volume between the two countries at $336.21 million, a decrease of 8.5 per cent from the previous year’s $367.39 million. Despite this decline, Cambodia’s trade surplus with Australia grew by $137.63 million. Currently, Australia ranks as the country’s 17th largest trading partner.

Speaking to The Post on October 2, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng highlighted Australia’s growing importance as a trade partner, noting a consistent rise in Cambodian goods in the Australian market. Products predominantly exported to Australia include textiles, bicycles and an array of agricultural goods. In contrast, the country’s imports from Australia mainly include electronics, pharmaceuticals and vehicles.

Lim emphasised the potential of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – a free trade agreement comprising 15 member countries – to strengthen bilateral trade, especially as the global economic downturn recedes.

“In addition to the RCEP, the CCC inaugurated representative offices in Melbourne and Sydney in early May. These offices not only promote our products in Australia but also aim to attract more Australian investors to the country,” he said.

“The current decrease in bilateral trade can be attributed to the global economic slump, prompting consumers to reduce spending on non-essential items. However, I foresee an uptick in future trade revenues between the two nations,” he stated, explaining the recent dip in trade.

He also mentioned that several Australian investors have shown interest in the Kingdom’s agriculture and mineral resources sectors.

Chhin Ken, president of the Cambodia Digital Tech Association, stated in August that by modernising investment laws and enhancing labour-related factors, the Kingdom has become a more appealing destination for both national and international investors.

“With growth in production, we’ve seen a surge in yield. The active trade deals, whether bilateral or multilateral, will undeniably boost our global trade, particularly exports,” Ken said.

For reference, in 2022 the bilateral trade value between the two nations was $523.61 million, up 60.9 per cent from 2021’s $325.47 million. Cambodian exports to Australia surged by 84.6 per cent to $379.03 million, while imports stood at $144.58 million, up 20.3 per cent. This resulted in a trade surplus of approximately $234.46 million for Cambodia that year.