Cambodia exported $346.034 million worth of goods to Australia in the first 11 months of 2022, nearly doubling on-year with a 97.57 per cent rise, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

This represented 72.33 per cent of the merchandise trade between the two countries during the January-November period, or $478.404 million, which was up 69.68 per cent year-on-year. Meanwhile, Cambodian imports from Australia were to the tune of $132.370 million, up 23.94 per cent on a yearly basis.

The Kingdom’s trade surplus with Australia for the 11-month period expanded by 212.7 per cent on-year to reach $213.664 million.

Last month alone, the Cambodian-Australian merchandise trade clocked in at $39.42 million, down 7.1 per cent from $42.45 million in November 2021 but up 14.2 per cent from $34.52 million in October 2022.

The Kingdom’s exports accounted for $33.93 million, up 39.8 per cent year-on-year and up 18.8 per cent month-on-month, while imports came to $5.49 million, down 69.8 per cent year-on-year and down 7.9 per cent month-on-month.

In an interview with The Post, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng highlighted agriculture as a key component of Cambodian relations with Australia, and not exclusively in the field of trade.

Canberra has also provided considerable amounts of financial and technical assistance to raise agricultural productivity in Cambodia, he explained.

He expects Cambodian-Australian trade relations to continue to improve, propelled by “good bilateral cooperation” as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to which they are both signatories, along with 13 additional Asia-Pacific countries: all nine other ASEAN nations and China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

“As the two countries enjoy good political and diplomatic relations, trade and foreign direct investment [FDI] will increase in tandem,” he said, adding that Australian investors have entered the Cambodian market, notably the mining sector.

He was most likely referring to Australian miner Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd, which on June 21, 2021 began the commercial operation of its Okvau Gold Project in Mondulkiri province, becoming the Kingdom’s first gold producer.

Cambodia mostly exports agricultural products, textile-related items and bicycles to Australia, and notably imports electronics, vehicles and food products such as beef, dairy goods and fruits, according to Heng.

Late last week, Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak discussed improvements in Cambodian-Australian relations in terms of trade and general cooperative engagements, underscoring Canberra’s contributions to the Kingdom’s socio-economic development, including the provision of Covid-19 vaccines.

The minister was speaking at a meeting with outgoing Australian ambassador to Cambodia Pablo Kang on December 22, the commerce ministry noted in a statement.

Sorasak took the occasion to thank the government and people of Australia for their assistance under the Cambodia-Australia Partnership for Resilient Economic Development (CAP-RED) programme and Regional Trade for Development (RT4D) facility, commenting that his ministry would “benefit greatly” from these initiatives.

Both sides hailed the “substantial conclusion” of talks for an upgrade to the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AAZNFTA) – formally announced on November 13 at the dual ASEAN summits in Phnom Penh – which was one of the Kingdom’s priority economic deliverables (PED) for its 2022 chairmanship of the Southeast Asian bloc, the statement said.

The ASEAN Secretariat reported that the merchandise trade of the bloc with Australia and New Zealand reached $81.6 billion and $11 billion in 2021, respectively, up 49 per cent and 22.5 per cent on a yearly basis. Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows from Australia and New Zealand to ASEAN totalled $589 million last year, it added.

The commerce ministry reported that bilateral trade between Cambodia and Australia totalled $324 million last year, up 52 per cent compared to 2020.