Exports to Singapore in the first eight months of 2023 rose over 6.5 times to $476.9 million from $72.8 million in the corresponding period in 2022, as bilateral trade fell 62.8 per cent to $1.1 billion due to lower imports from Singapore, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE).

The GDCE’s International Commodity Trade Statistics showed that from January to August, Cambodia imported goods worth $625.8 million from Singapore, which is a decrease of 78.3 per cent from $2.9 billion last year.

The period’s bilateral trade volume stood at $1.1 billion compared to $2.96 billion in the first eight months of 2022, which resulted in a significant narrowing of Cambodia’s trade deficit with Singapore to $148.9 million against $2.8 billion last year. Singapore is Cambodia’s sixth largest international trading partner, led by China, the US, Vietnam, Thailand and Japan.

For August 2023, trade between the two countries totalled $211.4 million, down 40.3 per cent from August 2022, with Cambodia’s exports to Singapore up 556.4 per cent at $28.9 million while imports from Singapore dropped 47.8 per cent to $182.6 million.

Hong Vanak, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on September 27 that the high export growth value to Singapore is linked to the impact of Covid-19 in key economic sectors in 2022 which resulted in a sharp decline in exports to Singapore. The exports rose significantly on the back of growing demand in Singapore and the shipment of export goods for resale in other countries.

He said Singapore is not only a destination for international cargo ships, but also a hub for transshipment and repacking of goods for resale in global markets.

“The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, in which Cambodia and Singapore are signatories, and the Double Taxation Agreement implementation has streamlined the flow of goods between both countries. Cambodian agricultural products are expected to have a bigger presence in Singapore, as well as in international markets,” he said.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng said the increase in export value from Cambodia to Singapore may be due to the greater contribution of agricultural products, as the export of textiles has been recording steady growth.

“I am confident that Cambodia’s exports to Singapore will continue to grow. As for the decrease in imports from Singapore, this is a result of increased production capacity in Cambodia,” he said.

The industry expert said Cambodia exports garments, bags and shoes, electrical components and agricultural and agro-industrial products to Singapore, while the latter sells electrical equipment, electronic components, construction materials and some pharmaceutical products to Cambodia.

As of June 30, last year, the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) reported a total of $39 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in Cambodia, with an average annual growth rate of 9.6 per cent. Singapore, the fourth largest investor in Cambodia, with $2.4 billion, accounted for 6.4 per cent of FDI at the time.

In 2022, bilateral trade between Cambodia and Singapore was $3.3 billion, down 36.3 per cent from 2021. Exports to Singapore were valued 22.8 per cent lower than a year ago at $92.6 million while imports also dropped 36.6 per cent to $3.2 billion, the GDCE stated.