China, Vietnam and Thailand are Cambodia’s primary sources of goods, with imports totalling nearly $1.6 billion in January, representing approximately two-thirds of Cambodia’s total imports for the month, as reported by the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

In January, the country’s imports from international markets amounted to $2.09 billion. Of this, $1.57 billion worth of goods were imported from the three countries, comprising 75.32% of the total and marking a slight increase from 74.4% in the same period of 2023, according to the GDCE.

Breaking down the figures, imports from China were valued at $1.033 billion, making up 49.4% of the total. Goods from Vietnam were worth $304.57 million or 14.6%, while imports from Thailand totalled $236.93 million, accounting for 11.3%. 

Other major import origins include Singapore, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), explained to The Post the significance of the geographical proximity and large production capacity of China, Vietnam and Thailand. 

He said these countries have become crucial suppliers for Cambodia, particularly in recent years. He noted that Cambodia’s imports from these countries serve not only domestic needs but also supply raw materials for production and export to international markets.

Heng noted the existence of bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTAs), including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), between Cambodia and these three countries. 

“Considering geographical factors, diplomatic relations, production capacity and trade agreements, I believe these countries will continue to be leaders in fulfilling Cambodia’s import demands for a long time,” he stated.

He highlighted that the three countries are significant export destinations for Cambodian goods as well, receiving millions of dollars’ worth of exports annually. 

The range of products Cambodia imports from these countries is diverse, including food, medicine, daily necessities, agricultural machinery, automobiles, construction supplies and raw materials for processing. In contrast, Cambodia primarily exports agricultural products and natural resources, as per the GDCE.

Ky Sereyvath, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC) and director of the RAC’s Institute of China Studies, previously remarked on the robust trade relations between Cambodia and the three countries, especially as members of the RCEP. 

He noted that regional trade is essential and significant, particularly during times of global political and economic challenges. 

“Given the geographical proximity and strong government and private sector relations, trade between Cambodia and China, Vietnam and Thailand is set to grow even more in the future,” he stated.

In 2023, the Kingdom imported goods worth $17.29 billion from the three countries, representing 71.5% of its total imports for the year, which amounted to $24.18 billion, as per the GDCE.