Cambodian exports to Thailand plunged 48.93 per cent to $329.54 million in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021, from $645.23 million in the year-ago period, according to Thailand’s Department of Foreign Trade.
Bilateral trade between the kingdoms clocked in at $2.09734 billion in January-March, down by 21.37 per cent from $2.66725 billion in the same period last year.
Of that, Cambodia imported $1.7678 billion, marking a 12.57 per cent year-on-year drop from $2.02202 billion. This means that Cambodia’s trade deficit widened 4.5 per cent to $1.438 billion from $1.3768 billion in the first quarter of 2020.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on April 25 that the sharp drop in exports to Thailand was due to the two main factors – border restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and a lockdown slump in production on the Cambodian side.
He said agricultural products are the only significant exports to Thailand at the moment, adding that Cambodia must ramp up its production capacity to further penetrate the Thai market.
"The huge gap in trade balance between the two countries has been lingering for too long and is not good for the Cambodian economy. The value of our exports falling far behind means a leakage in the national income for Cambodia and gains for Thailand,” he said.
Battambang provincial Department of Commerce director Kim Hout raised concerns that the spread of Covid-19 has led to a sharp drop in Thai purchases of Cambodian agricultural products and sent prices on a downward trajectory.
He said cross-border imports and exports through Battambang province reversed a steady upward trend seen at the start of the second quarter. "Covid-19 has reduced orders on both sides," Hout affirmed.