Cambodian goods exports to Thailand reached $480.236 million in the first five months of 2023, up 9.47 per cent year-on-year from $438.705 million and up 84.47 per cent half-on-half (compared to July-November 2022) from $260.33 million, according to Customs (GDCE).

The volume of merchandise traded between the two kingdoms in January-May 2023 was to the tune of $1.705 billion, down 8.78 per cent year-on-year from $1.869 billion and down 14.79 per cent half-on-half from $2.001 billion, as indicated by provisional GDCE figures compiled in “International Merchandise Trade Statistics” bulletins.

At the same time, Cambodia imported $1.225 billion worth of goods from Thailand, down 14.38 per cent year-on-year from $1.430 billion and down 29.64 per cent half-on-half from $1.741 billion.

Thailand was Cambodia’s fourth biggest merchandise trading partner for the five-month period – behind mainland China ($5.076B), the US ($3.292B) and Vietnam ($2.871B) – representing 8.838 per cent, 5.229 per cent and 12.116 per cent of the latter’s international trade ($19.293 billion), exports ($9.183B) and imports ($10.109B), respectively.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post that the majority of Cambodia’s exports to Thailand are either agricultural products or electronic components manufactured near the border.

He claimed that the uptick in Cambodian exports suggests an increase in domestic production capacity as more businesses come to the country and diversify their investments across practically all industries.

The growth in export revenues is not only boosting Cambodia’s economy but also generating jobs for the populace, he asserted, opining that the kingdoms’ shared frontier should lead to record-breaking two-way trade volumes.

“[In addition,] the manufacturing capacity and quality of Cambodian goods have improved as a result of efforts to strengthen investment legislation and conditions,” Heng claimed.

Despite the increase in Cambodia’s exports to its neighbour, Royal Academy of Cambodia economist Hong Vanak pointed out that the trade deficit remains large.

For reference, GDCE figures show that the trade deficit for the January-May period clocked in at $744.546 million, although this was 24.93 per cent smaller year-on-year and even 49.71 per cent less than six months earlier.

He advised Cambodia to pull out all the stops to diversify its production portfolio and raise the bar on quality to rein in imports and prop up exports.

To more effectively compete on the international stage, “Cambodia must endeavour to develop itself by luring in more investment, reducing production costs and strengthening the capacity of the domestic workforce”, he said.

According to the GDCE, the Cambodia-Thailand merchandise trade in 2022 was valued at $4.664 billion, up 14.22 per cent against 2021.

Cambodian goods exports to and imports from Thailand amounted to $831.772 million and $3.833 billion, respectively up 34.11 per cent and up 10.66 per cent year-on-year, expanding the former’s trade deficit with the latter by 5.54 per cent to $3.001 billion.

Thailand was Cambodia’s fourth largest merchandise trading partner in 2022, accounting for 8.897 per cent of the global total of $52.425 billion, compared to the top three: mainland China ($11.686B; 22.291%), the US ($9.281B; 17.704%) and Vietnam ($6.136B; 11.704%).