Exports from Cambodia to South Korea continued to increase, with the total reaching over $253 million in the first 11 months of 2023.

Bilateral trade during the period amounted to more than $683 million, as reported by the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

The GDCE’s trade statistics revealed that the combined total trade value between the two countries stood at $683.32 million for the period, marking a decrease of 3.9% from $711.04 million, year-on-year. 

South Korea ranks as the country’s 12th-largest trading partner, following leading trading partners such as China, the US, Vietnam and Thailand.

From January to November 2023, exports to Korea saw a significant jump of 22.4% to $253.42 million. Korean imports fell by 14.7% to $429.9 million for the period. This resulted in a trade deficit of $176.49 million for Cambodia, an improvement from the $296.81 million deficit in the same interval of 2022.

Hong Vanak, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said on December 21 that despite the global economic downturn, the country’s exports to Korea have remained robust. 

The increase in export value is attributed to the quality and variety of Cambodian goods aligning with Korean consumer preferences. 

He noted that the Kingdom’s trade balance is still in deficit, highlighting the need for the country to diversify its exports further.

Vanak pointed out that the implementation of a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), including import duty exemptions on certain goods, has played a role in boosting exports to Korea. 

“Gradually, the Korean market has been receiving an increasing variety of goods from Cambodia. In addition to textiles, agricultural products are emerging as potential export items,” he said.

“With the continued growth in investment, I anticipate an increase in Cambodia’s exports to international markets, including Korea,” he added.

He noted that in addition to exporting to Korea, the country has also attracted numerous Korean investors. 

According to the GDCE, the country’s primary exports to Korea include garments, footwear, travel goods and agricultural products. Imports from Korea consist of automobiles, agricultural machinery, electronic products, medicines, beverages and everyday essentials.

Chea Chandara, president of the Logistics and Supply Chain Business Association (LOSCBA), attributed the current decline in international trade to the ongoing global political and economic crises. 

Nevertheless, he noted that production and transportation remain unaffected, with the primary issue being reduced international orders.

“During the global economic downturn, Cambodia has invested significantly in travel and transportation infrastructure, such as roads, airports and ports. These developments are expected to contribute substantially to national economic growth once the global situation improves,” he said.

In 2022, bilateral trade between the two nations totalled $778.924 million, a slight increase of 0.6% compared to 2021. Cambodian exports were valued at $233.638 million, up by 20.4%, while Korean imports stood at $545.286 million, a decrease of 6%, according to the GDCE.