Cambodia's international trade totalled over $35 billion in the first three quarters of 2023, marking a slight decrease from the same period last year. This comes as the country’s trade deficit shrank by over $1 billion, as reported by the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

GDCE data indicates that between January and September, trade with all partners reached just above $35 billion, a 3.5% decrease from the previous year’s $36.44 billion.

Cambodia’s exports amounted to almost $17 billion, reflecting a 0.8% dip. Imports dropped 5.9% to just over $18 billion.

The country’s trade balance showed a deficit of $1.27 billion, down substantially from $2.28 billion over the same period last year.

During September, international trade amounted to $3.836 billion, a notable 10.12% surge from the $3.483 billion in September 2022. Exports rose 17.2% to $1.881 billion, while imports increased by 4.1% to $1.955 billion.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), told The Post on October 10 that international trade volumes, especially exports, are showing recovery signs after a decline that started in the second half of 2022, noting that the country’s enhanced trade figures signify a healthy economic progression.

He expressed optimism about further improvements and highlighted the country’s recent free trade agreements (FTAs), including with China (CCFTA) and South Korea (CKFTA), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Underscoring the surge in direct investment, Heng noted that this trend would bolster the county’s independence in satisfying domestic demand and enhancing exports.

“With the combined efforts of the government and private sector, I foresee a brighter outlook for our international trade, especially exports. We’re gearing up to offer a broader range of high-quality products that meet international standards,” he added.

Chhin Ken, president of the Cambodia Digital Tech Association, emphasised the government’s role in fostering a conducive investment climate, thereby drawing more local and foreign investors. He stated that the technology sector is becoming pivotal to the country’s operations, particularly in trade.

“The modernisation of technology, which benefits investors and entrepreneurs alike, is crucial to propelling [our] economy forward,” he said.

Prime Minister Hun Manet is set to chair the government-private sector forum on November 13, aiming to foster dialogue between government leaders and the private sector to devise strategies and solutions that enhance the investment environment in Cambodia.

For reference, the GDCE reported that the Kingdom’s international trade in 2022 was valued at $52.424 billion, marking a 9.2% increase from 2021’s $48 billion. Exports surged 16.4% to $22.48 billion, while imports reached nearly $30 billion, growing by 4.3%.