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Covid-19 no speed bump for January-April bicycle exports

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A bicycle parking lot near the Delft railway station in the city of Delft, South Holland, the Netherlands. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift to pedal power in Europe and the US, driving up demand for imports from countries such as Cambodia. GETTY IMAGES/AFP

Covid-19 no speed bump for January-April bicycle exports

Cambodia exported $199,041,709 worth of bicycles and parts in the first four months of this year, representing an increase of 32.38 per cent year-on-year, according to Ministry of Commerce statistics.

Of that, bicycle sales clocked in at $198,668,163, up by 32.28 per cent year-on-year, and shipments of bicycle parts were to the tune of $373,545.98, up by 113.44 per cent.

The increase indicates that bicycle exports are still able to ride over the speed bumps put in place by the Covid-19 pandemic that continue to plague the Kingdom and much of the rest of the world.

Ministry spokesman Seang Thay said the US, UK, Europe and Canada topped the list of buyers of Cambodian-assembled bicycles, followed by Japan, China, South Korea and ASEAN countries.

He said the January-April exports of bicycles and parts exceeded those of the corresponding period of 2020 by more than $48.67 million.

“There were three main factors driving Cambodia’s exports to continue growing earlier this year. First, Cambodian Minister of Commerce [Pan Sorasak] called on buyers to continue ordering goods from Cambodia.

“Second, we’ve developed buyer confidence. And third, Cambodia is one of the largest exporters of bicycles, with a wide market,” he said.

According to Thay, Cambodia has six bicycle factories – all based in special economic zones of the southeastern province of Svay Rieng.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post that tariff preferences for bicycle parts under the EU’s ‘Everything But Arms’ scheme and the US’ Generalised System of Preferences were key drivers of the remarkable rise in bicycle exports logged in January-April.

He said that maintaining a brand with a strong quality reputation for made-in-Cambodia bicycles has built up confidence among buyers, and further fuelled export growth.

“On the other hand, bicycles are often associated with the environment and health. With Covid-19 looming over us, most people want to ride sports bikes, so demand for bicycles in the US and Europe remains strong. This and the course of good bilateral cooperation between Cambodia and the EU has contributed to the growth of bicycle exports,” Vanak said.

Last year, the Kingdom exported $527.08 million worth of bicycles, marking a 27.78 per cent year-on-year surge, and imported $8.38 million from Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the US and Thailand, down by 19.33 per cent year-on-year, according to the ministry.

While no figures were available for the number of bicycles exported in 2020, online trade publication Bike Europe reported that the Kingdom shipped out more than 1.42 million bicycles in 2017, up by nine per cent from 1.26 million in the previous year.

According to Bike Europe, Cambodia has become the leading supplier of bicycles to the EU since 2017, overtaking Taiwan, which held the position for more than two decades.

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