Cambodia exported $123.571 million worth of merchandise to India in the first half (H1) of 2023, up 47.83 per cent from $83.591 million in 2022H1 and up 9.3 per cent from $113.04 million in 2022H2, according to Customs (GDCE).
The volume of goods exchanged between the two countries in 2023H1 totalled $232.590 million, up 3.55 per cent year-on-year from $224.612 million and up 8.0 per cent half-on-half from $215.39 million, provisional GDCE data compiled in “International Merchandise Trade Statistics” bulletins show.
Cambodia’s imports from the world’s officially most populous nation accounted for 46.87 per cent of that, standing at $109.019 million, down 22.69 per cent year-on-year from $141.022 million but up more than 6.5 per cent half-on-half from $102.35 million.
The Kingdom recorded a trade surplus – the amount by which a country’s exports exceed its imports – of $14.552 million with India for 2023H1, expanding by 36.1 per cent from 2022H2’s $10.69 million, which reversed a deficit of $57.431 million in 2022H1.
India was Cambodia’s 19th biggest goods trading partner in 2023H1, representing 0.98 per cent, 1.08 per cent and 0.89 per cent of its totals for international trade ($23.694B), exports ($11.464B) and imports ($12.229B) for the six-month period, according to the GDCE.
Speaking to The Post on July 25, Royal Academy of Cambodia economist Hong Vanak remarked that trade between the two countries has experienced steady growth buoyed by Cambodian exports to the world’s seventh largest country.
He underscored the importance of identifying and stepping up local production of commodities with strong export potential in the South Asian economic powerhouse with the officially largest population, pointing out how comparatively low the level of bilateral trade has historically been.
“It is essential to develop and broaden diplomatic and economic ties with other nations, especially those that have sizeable markets. I predict that in the future, India will become an even more important trading partner of Cambodia,” he opined.
Vanak also contended that the two countries’ shared historical and cultural ties, traditions and religion provide a wealth of tourism opportunities.
According to the GDCE, in June alone, Cambodian goods exports to India hit $14.386 million, up 1.8 per cent year-on-year from $14.124 million, but down 44.9 per cent half-on-half from $26.115 million, down 0.6 per cent quarter-on-quarter from $14.476 million, and down 18.5 per cent month-on-month from $17.659 million.
Imports from the South Asian economic juggernaut closed June at $17.521 million, down 39.5 per cent year-on-year from $28.982 million, up 17.8 per cent half-on-half from $14.875 million, up 2.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter from $17.131 million, and down 19.9 per cent month-on-month from $21.886 million.
India was the Kingdom’s 18th largest export destination and number-14 import source in June, representing 0.72 per cent, 0.63 per cent and 0.83 per cent of its international trade ($4.401B), exports ($2.281B) and imports ($2.120B), respectively, GDCE numbers show.
In a late-May interview with The Post, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng reflected on the magnitude of economic boost that ramping up the Kingdom’s exports of high-potential commodities to India may provide, considering the vast size and population of the major South Asian power as well as the extensive cultural and historical ties that exist between the two nations.
Following a period of declines during the Covid-19 crisis, trade between the two countries is growing significantly, particularly Cambodian exports to India, he said.
“Although imports and exports between the two countries aren’t very large yet, I hope that through better government-to-government relations, the volume of bilateral trade will accelerate soon,” he said, suggesting regular commercial flights to drive trade and tourism between them.
Heng cited agricultural and textile-related commodities as high-potential items for sale to India, mentioning hi-tech, pharmaceutical and medical products as notable imports from the world’s fifth-largest economy.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has highlighted cassava in powder form (either flour or starch), oil palm fresh fruit bunches (FFB), peppercorn and cashew nuts as notable Cambodian agricultural exports to India.
According to the Cambodian embassy in New Delhi, ambassador Koy Kuong on July 18 met with BC Datta, corporate affairs vice-president at India’s OLA Electric, to explore the electric two-wheeler manufacturer’s interest in the Cambodian market.
Kuong went over the legal prerequisites and procedures for OLA Electric to bring its products into the Kingdom, the embassy noted in a statement without providing further details.
GDCE statistics indicate that, in 2022, the amount of merchandise exchanged between Cambodia and India came in at $440.00 million, up 41.37 per cent from $311.24 million a year earlier.
Cambodia’s exports to and imports from India were to the tune of $196.632 million and $243.372 million, respectively, up 56.0 per cent and up 31.43 per cent, narrowing the former’s trade deficit with the latter by 20.9 per cent on a yearly basis to $46.74 million.
No breakdown was immediately available of the particular items traded between Cambodia and India at any point during the 2022-2023 period.
However, Trading Economics statistics show that, out of Cambodia’s $126.07 million worth of goods exports to India in 2021 (up from $62.24M in 2020), “animal, vegetable fats and oils, cleavage products” accounted for the lion’s share at $51.18 million (versus $20.07M in 2020), followed by “organic chemicals” ($32.80M; vs $82.25K), “articles of apparel, knit or crocheted” ($10.10M; vs $9.55M), and “footwear, gaiters and the like” ($6.66M; vs $3.49M).
The next eight items were: “rubbers” ($6.13M; vs $11.70M in 2020), “electrical, electronic equipment” ($6.03M; vs $6.22M), “articles of apparel, not knit or crocheted” ($3.05M; vs $2.32M), “vehicles other than railway, tramway” ($1.94M; vs $508.20K), “machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers” ($1.71M; vs $657.28K), “coffee, tea, mate and spices” ($1.58M; vs $1.35M), “other made textile articles, sets, worn clothing” ($1.16M; vs $1.94M), and “articles of leather, animal gut, harness, travel goods” ($830.55K; vs $388.24K).
For reference, the 12 categories respectively correspond to chapters 15, 29, 61, 64, 40, 85, 62, 87, 84, 09, 63 and 42 of the Harmonised System (HS) of Tariff Nomenclature.
Similarly, out of Cambodia’s $185.17 million worth of goods imports from India in 2021 (up from $129.41M in 2020), “pharmaceutical products” accounted for the most at $47.41 million (versus $36.22M in 2020), followed by “vehicles other than railway, tramway” ($35.53M; vs $29.12M), “electrical, electronic equipment” ($12.69M; vs $8.18M), and “meat and edible meat offal” ($11.29M; vs $3.16M).
The next eight items were: “machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers” ($10.77M; vs $12.81M in 2020), “residues, wastes of food industry, animal fodder” ($9.92M; vs $4.34M), “manmade staple fibres” ($7.68M; vs $5.26M), “paper and paperboard, articles of pulp, paper and board” ($7.17M; vs $1.70M), “pearls, precious stones, metals, coins” ($5.29M; vs $795.33K), “miscellaneous chemical products” ($4.31M; vs $1.76M), “cereal, flour, starch, milk preparations and products” ($4.11M; vs $223.03K), and “raw hides and skins (other than furskins) and leather” ($4.00M; vs $4.46M).
These 12 categories respectively correspond to chapters 30, 87, 85, 02, 84, 23, 55, 48, 71, 38, 19 and 41 of the HS.
Of note, statistical discrepancies and asymmetries in trade figures are common between different sources. Trading Economics sources its figures from the UN Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN COMTRADE).