Although a majority of Cambodia’s trade with the West continues to experience a slowdown, bilateral trade volume between Cambodia and Vietnam in the first eight months of 2023 increased slightly, with exports up 26.1 per cent year-on-year, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

From January to August 2023, exports and imports between Cambodia and Vietnam rose 1.4 per cent to $4.3 billion from $4.2 billion in the same period in 2022. Of this, Cambodia’s exports stood at $1.9 billion compared to $1.5 billion, while imports from Vietnam fell 11.7 per cent to $2.5 billion from $2.8 billion. Improving bilateral trade resulted in a lower trade deficit of $596.4 million, as opposed to $1.3 billion in the corresponding period last year.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economic researcher Hong Vanak told The Post on Sept 14 that the momentum of exports and imports between the two countries has begun to recover, particularly Cambodia’s exports, which increased by more than 26 per cent.

Agricultural products play an important role in boosting Cambodia’s export value, which involves increasing exports to almost every country. Owing to the absence of warehousing, drying silos and processing facilities, Cambodia’s exports to Vietnam consists mostly of fresh or unprocessed products.

Vanak said trade between the two contiguous countries would continue to increase, as both governments recently agreed to raise cross-border trade.

“Currently, Cambodia imports a wide range of daily necessities from Vietnam. Because the countries share land and water borders, the actual trade volume is much larger than the official data,” he pointed out.

Previously, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng mentioned that although recent years’ international trade has not been good, Cambodia-Vietnam trade remains steady, especially the export and import of agricultural products, which is expected to rise in future.

In addition, the Cambodian government and private sector are currently encouraging more investment in local processing plants to increase the export of finished products and reduce raw material exports.

Lim Heng said Cambodia mostly exports paddy rice, rubber, cashew nuts, cassava, corn, bananas, mangoes and tobacco to Vietnam whereas imports from Vietnam consist of construction materials, machinery, fuel, electrical equipment and electronic components, agricultural fertiliser, spices, fruits and vegetables.

In 2022, bilateral trade went up 19.6 per cent to $6 billion, where exports to Vietnam grew 9.2 per cent to $2 billion, and imports expanded 26.2 per cent to nearly $4 billion, the GDCE said.