While the ongoing global political and economic turmoil continues to adversely affect international commerce post-pandemic, bilateral trade between Cambodia and Canada reached over $940 million in 2023, marking a near 20% decline from 2022, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

Total exports and imports between the two nations amounted to $940.49 million, a decrease of 18.5% from the $1.15 billion recorded in 2022. The number represented approximately 2% of Cambodia’s total international trade volume of $46.83 billion in 2023. 

Among the country’s trading partners, Canada ranks eighth, following China, the US, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia and Germany.

According to the GDCE, the Kingdom’s exports to Canada were valued at $869.54 million for 2023, a drop of 22.4%, year-on-year, while imports surged by 109.4% to $70.95 million. The country’s trade surplus with Canada expanded to $798.59 million.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), attributed the decline in trade, particularly in Cambodian exports, to the global economic slowdown in 2023, which dampened Canadian orders while the Kingdom’s production capacity remained consistent. 

He noted, however, that the international trade situation began to improve in the last few months of 2023.

“Global economic and political crises from 2020 to 2023 have significantly reduced the flow of exports and imports to almost all destinations,” Heng said on January 28. 

He clarified that the drop in the value of Cambodia’s exports does not imply a deficiency in the quality of Cambodian goods but was due to diminishing orders. He expressed optimism about the potential upswing in global economic growth.

Heng noted that the CCC opened a representative office in Toronto, Canada, in 2022, to foster bilateral trade and attract Canadian investors. The office is tasked with promoting Cambodian products and attracting Canadian investment.

Cambodia’s exports to Canada include clothing, travel goods, footwear, electrical equipment, electronic components and bicycles. Primary imports from Canada are electronics and automobiles, as per the GDCE.

Ly Khun Thai, president of the Cambodian Footwear Association (CFA), noted that Cambodian textile products are well-received in markets such as the US, Canada, the UK and Europe. 

He said the decline in exports to these countries in 2023 was attributed to the high volume of orders in 2022 and the uncertainty of global economic growth. 

“For 2024, the CFA predicts an upturn in the export of footwear, gaiters and similar articles, based on the recent surge in sales for companies sourcing from Cambodia,” he explained. 

Khun Thai expects the clearance of stock by buyers and retailers to lead to increased orders for these products in 2024 compared to 2023.

As per the National Bank of Cambodia’s (NBC) report on foreign direct investment (FDI), by the end of 2021, Canada was Cambodia’s ninth-largest financer, with an investment of $1.1 billion, 2.8% of the Kingdom’s total investment of $41 billion. 

This places Canada behind China, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and the UK, as per the central bank.