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Food costs expose gap in country’s production

Food costs expose gap in country’s production

Despite a 67 per cent drop in food imports to Cambodia in 2011, inflation in exporting countries drove an 18 per cent rise in the total value of the imports.

Food imports fell from 769,993 tonnes in 2010 to 254,080 in 2011, while the total value of imports increased to US$158 million from $134 million, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.

Inflation in countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia and Singapore led to the increase in revenue, University of Cambodia economics and business lecturer Chheng Kimlong said. “Those countries had increased inflation so it pushed up the product prices. That’s also why the volume slowed down.”

Cambodia has few other options than to import food products from neighbouring countries, Chheng Kimlong said. Domestic production is still low and cannot meet consumer demand, he said.

Meng Saktheara, director general at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, said the small- and medium-sized enterprise subcommittee that he oversees received $800,000 in unconditional aid from the Asian Development Bank to increase local entrepreneurs’ technical capacity and competitiveness.

Growth in consumer demand for foreign food products could usher in new investment from abroad, Chheng Kimlong said. The increased spending could catch the eyes of foreign companies looking to set up shop in the Kingdom, he said.

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