Goods trade between Cambodia and South Korea in the first five months of 2021 was worth $302.231 million, up by 2.66 per cent from $294.397 million in January-May last year, according to data from the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce.
Of that, the Kingdom exported $75.369 million worth of merchandise, down by 0.47 per cent year-on-year from $75.727 million, and imported $226.861 million, up by 3.75 per cent year-on-year from $218.670 million.
The trade deficit widened by 5.98 per cent, from $142.943 million to $151.492 million.
Cambodian exports include finished textile products, components for electronic equipment, rubber and agricultural products, and the greater part of imports comprise vehicles, electronic and electrical equipment, beverages and plastics.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, noted that trade activity and value remained in growth territory, despite Covid-19.
He told The Post on June 15: “The two countries still have good trade relations with each other, and it will be even more special when the bilateral free trade agreement [FTA] between the two countries enters into force.”
Vanak argued that the decline in Cambodian exports to South Korea was not a cause for concern, and occurred at a time when every country in the world has restricted travel and reduced unnecessary spending.
“A decline of this level is not an issue, but what is a problem is the imbalance in exports of goods between Cambodia and Korea, which is about a three-fold gap now,” he said.
The value of South Korean exports in January-May was 201.00 per cent larger the Cambodia’s shipments to the East Asian economy.
Vanak stressed that even with an FTA between the two countries expected to enter into force at the end of this year, Cambodia needs to make more efforts to become a more diversified producer and export not only to Korea, but all markets across the world.
Export diversification will enable Cambodia to excel in international trade, he said.
On February 3, Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak and his South Korean counterpart Yoo Myung-hee signed the agreed minutes on the conclusion of negotiations over the FTA via video link, with both sides scheduling an official signing ceremony in June.
Cambodian ambassador to South Korea Long Dimanche said the trade deal would encourage foreign investors, especially Koreans, to venture into the Cambodia, a country he said was endowed with political stability, good diplomatic relations, strong economic growth and a large, affordable and skilled workforce.
In addition to garnering more interest among investors in Cambodia, Dimanche said he and his team in South Korea regularly promote the investment potential of the Kingdom.
“After the global Covid-19 disease eases, Korean tourism and investment in Cambodia will definitely increase,” he said.
Last year, bilateral trade value between Cambodia and South Korea amounted to $729.13 million, up by 17.31 per cent over 2019, according to ministry data.
The Kingdom’s exports were to the tune of $185.02 million, an increase of 12.61 per cent over 2019, while imports totalled $544.11 million, up by 18.79 per cent year-on-year.