The Cambodia-Canada merchandise trade in 2022 was valued at $1.154 billion, soaring by 16.06 per cent over 2021, while the Kingdom’s exports to the second largest economy of the Americas accounted for 97.07 per cent, edging up by 1.08 percentage points on-year, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

In 2022, Cambodian goods exports to and imports from Canada amounted to $1.121 billion and $33.877 million, respectively up 17.36 per cent and down 15.07 per cent year-on-year, expanding the Kingdom’s trade surplus with the American country by 18.77 per cent to $1.087 billion versus $914.940 million in 2021.

Canada was the fifth largest buyer of Cambodian merchandise in 2022, accounting for 4.98 per cent of the global total of $22.483 billion, compared to the top four: the US ($8.969 billion; 39.89%), Vietnam ($2.169 billion; 9.65%), mainland China ($1.241 billion; 5.52%) and Japan ($1.173 billion; 5.22%).

Last month alone, the two-way merchandise trade was to the tune of $97.63 million, down 8.4 per cent from $106.61 million in December 2021 but up 19.0 per cent from $82.01 million in November 2022.

The Kingdom’s exports accounted for $94.974 million, down 9.09 per cent year-on-year but up 18.27 per cent month-on-month, while imports came to $2.65 million, up 24 per cent year-on-year and up 55 per cent month-on-month.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng commented to The Post on January 22 that Canada and the US are major buyers of Cambodian goods, mostly garments, footwear, “travel goods”, bicycles and electrical and electronic components, as well as handicrafts to a lesser extent.

“Travel goods” is a local designation that includes suitcases, backpacks, handbags, wallets and similar items, generally corresponding to heading 4202 of the harmonised tariff schedule.

Heng voiced total confidence that Cambodian goods exports to Canada would keep growing, especially tourism-related products such as garments, footwear and travel goods, given meaningful improvements in the Covid-19 situation and global economic recovery.

“With Cambodian-made goods in high demand there, once socio-economic conditions return to more normal pre-2020 levels, Cambodia’s exports to Canada will shoot up,” he said.

He acknowledged the limited number of Canadian investors active in the Kingdom, but expressed hope that this could change as cooperative relations between the governments and peoples of the two countries improve even further.

To this end, the CCC’s representative office in Toronto could reach out to local business players and enlighten them on investment opportunities in Cambodia, including in the tourism scene, and provide information on any areas of interest, he indicated.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, remarked that as a thriving economy with a relatively large share of high-tech goods in its product mix, Canada offers ample opportunity for local exporters to ship labour-intensive goods there.

It should come as no surprise then that Cambodia each year ships a wide range of labour-intensive items to the world’s second-largest country, such as garments, footwear, travel goods and bicycles, which are common use items not only in daily life, but also in tourism, he noted.

He underlined that a significant recovery in the tourism industry would most likely mean an uptick in purchase orders for these items.

Cambodian textile-related exports have recorded rather lacklustre performance since the second half of 2022, which has been blamed on downturns in economic activity and tourism in parts of the world linked to Covid-19 and the Ukraine crisis, he said.

Nonetheless, Vanak assured that Cambodian exports to Canada could experience sharp increases if the general situation returns to a pre-pandemic state.

According to online portal Trading Economics, the majority of the $954.83 million in Cambodian exports to Canada in 2021 constituted textile-related items, topped by “articles of apparel, knitted or crocheted” at $593.05 million, followed by “articles of apparel, not knitted or crocheted” ($141.91 million) and “footwear, gaiters and the like” ($86.71 million).

The next items were: “other made-up textile articles; sets” ($42.69 million), “articles of leather; saddlery and harness; travel goods” ($40.36 million), “furniture, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings” ($14.30 million) and “vehicles other than railway, tramway” ($9.10 million) – the last of which includes bicycles.

The next four were: “rubber and articles thereof” ($7.45 million), “plastics and articles thereof” ($6.60 million), “wood and articles of wood; wood charcoal” ($3.75 million) and “explosives, pyrotechnics, matches, pyrophorics” ($3.14 million).

For reference, the 11 categories respectively correspond to chapters 61, 62, 64, 63, 42, 94, 87, 40, 39, 44, 36 of the harmonised tariff schedule.

Cumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into Cambodia between August 5, 1994 and December 31, 2021 amounted to 168.8 trillion riel ($41.0 billion), rising by 11.2 per cent from the nearly 152 trillion riel recorded by end-2020, according to the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC).

Canada was the ninth largest investor in the Kingdom, with $1.1 billion, or a 2.8 per cent market share, after – in order of descending value – the Greater China region (comprising mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and the UK.

For reference, August 5, 1994 was the day when Royal Decree No 03/NS/94 promulgated the old Law on Investment and established the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the government’s highest decision-making body for large-scale investments.