Exports to Indonesia in the first 11 months of 2023 more than doubled, with the value of trade between the two countries reaching nearly $1 billion.

Indonesia is currently Cambodia’s 6th-largest trading partner, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE). 

The department’s International Commodity Trade Statistics reveal that total trade volume between the two nations during the period reached $965.24 million, expanding by 16.3% from $830.24 million in the same period of 2022

Between January and November 2023, exports to Indonesia stood at $70.56 million, marking a 111.7% increase compared to $33.33 million in the same period in 2022. 

Imports from Indonesia amounted to $894.68 million, an increase of 12.3% from $796.91 million.

Cambodia-Indonesia bilateral trade volume accounted for 2.27% of the country’s total international trade volume for the interval, which amounted to $42.5 billion.

According to the GDCE, the country’s trade deficit with Indonesia stood at $824.12 million as Indonesia jumped from 13th to 6th place in terms of trade volume, following China, the US, Vietnam, Thailand and Japan.

Hong Vanak, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on December 31 that the steady increase in the volume of exports and imports between the two countries is attributable to robust bilateral relations and private sector involvement.

He also noted the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, to which both countries are signatories among a total of 15 member states. 

He highlighted that the country predominantly exports agricultural products to Indonesia, with a notable increase in milled rice exports to the Indonesian market.

“As Indonesia is a populous country, the demand for food such as milled rice and agricultural products may be high, presenting Cambodia with an opportunity to boost domestic production for export to international markets, including Indonesia,” he explained. 

Vanak pointed out the large disparity in export and import volumes between the two countries, attributing it to Indonesia’s large population (approximately 279 million people in 2023) and its expansive industrial and export capabilities.

In September, Indonesia announced the purchase of 250,000 tonnes of milled rice per year from Cambodia, aimed at bolstering its food security. 

Additionally, Indonesia has committed to supporting Cambodia’s food security infrastructure through provisions of fertiliser and training for farmers.

Arief Prasetyo Adi, director-general of Indonesia’s National Food Agency (BPN), and Akhmad Kholisun, president of Perum BULOG’s Central Java branch, praised the quality of Cambodia’s rice at a press conference to celebrate the arrival of milled rice from Cambodia on November 2.

Both leaders urged the country to increase production for the Indonesian market.

Indonesian ambassador Santo Darmosumarto, in a December 26 meeting with Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth, emphasised the growing importance of Indonesia-Cambodia trade cooperation. 

He acknowledged that Indonesian businesspeople were not fully aware of the potential for investment in Cambodia, contributing to the wide trade gap between the two countries. 

He suggested that enhancing economic ties requires consideration of bilateral payment systems and initiating direct flights between major tourist destinations of both countries.

“Cambodia and Indonesia still have considerable potential for cooperation that needs to be developed and strengthened by leveraging the close historical ties between the two countries. We should endeavour to transform these historical connections into enhanced trade, investment, cooperation, tourism and socio-cultural links,” Darmosumarto stated.

National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) governor Chea Serey led a delegation and also met bilaterally with her Indonesian counterpart Perry Warjiyo during the Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group held from October 9-15, in Marrakesh, Morocco.

They discussed signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) aimed at enhancing bilateral cooperation, particularly focusing on cross-border e-payment connectivity to facilitate tourism, trade and investment between both nations.

According to the GDCE, trade between Cambodia and Indonesia totalled $948.53 million in 2022, a 48.3% increase from $639.72 million in 2021. 

Imports from Indonesia were valued at $911.69 million in 2022, marking a 50% surge, while exports to Indonesia were worth $36.839 million, an increase of 15.9%, as per the GDCE.