Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Jan-Sep iron, steel imports rise 20% on-year

Jan-Sep iron, steel imports rise 20% on-year

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia imported $27.0 million worth of iron and steel in September, up 20.9 per cent year-on-year but down 8.4 per cent month-on-month. Heng Chivoan

Jan-Sep iron, steel imports rise 20% on-year

Cambodian “iron and steel” imports in the first nine months of 2022 clocked in at $271.778 million, expanding 20.1 per cent year-on-year from $226.377 million, Customs reported, as observers attributed the increase to brisk demand from a myriad of active locally-financed construction projects, coupled with limited domestic supply.

This category of items, corresponding to Chapter 72 of the harmonised tariff schedule, accounted for 1.144 per cent of the $23.764 billion value of the Kingdom’s total imports over the nine months, versus the 2.442 per cent, 1.635 per cent and 1.098 per cent ratios in the same periods of 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively, General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) statistics show.

July-September iron and steel imports were down 15.4 per cent over the April-June quarter, but up 2.3 per cent compared to January-March.

In September alone, the Kingdom imported $27.025 millions worth, up 20.9 per cent from the $22.359 million recorded in the same month of 2021.

For comparison, the July and August figures were $29.495 million and $29.494 million, respectively, up 20.6 per cent and 18.8 per cent from $24.464 million and $24.835 million in the corresponding months of 2021.

The GDCE did not reveal any tonnage figures. To clarify, these imports do not include “articles of iron or steel”, which instead fall under Chapter 73 of the tariff schedule.

Despite the slight monthly downtrend this year, Housing Development Association of Cambodia secretary-general Huy Vanna drew attention to the fact that iron and steel imports have registered year-on-year increases throughout 2022, which he says have been undergirded by demand from the construction sector, notably for daily work on a whole host of locally-owned buildings.

By contrast, construction on large, typically internationally-owned developments has progressed at a sluggish pace on the whole, he said, citing general constraints pertaining to foreign financing fomented by the Covid-19 crisis and global political risks, which could potentially also be behind the monthly downtrend.

“The [on-year] increases in steel import values come as a result of vigorous residential construction activity, although the majority are older projects,” Vanna told The Post, stressing that the construction sector needs “more time” to return to pre-Covid-era growth.

The prospect of steelmaking in Cambodia to keep imports down and capitalise on the burgeoning domestic demand has piqued the interest of many investors, such as the Chinese-owned Hong De Sheng (Cambodia) Steel Co Ltd, whose $16.7 million steelworks in Kampong Speu province opened in early December 2020. In its initial stage, the factory was said to have an annual production capacity of 500,000 tonnes.

For reference, the Ministry of Commerce’s business registry indicates that Hong De Sheng Cambodia was incorporated on November 8, 2019, and lists “Chen Zhong” as the company’s “chairman” – a tag it typically reserves for a business’ highest-ranking officer – with a postal registered office address in Fuzhou city, Fujian province, China.

Meanwhile, Cambodia Constructors Association general manager and secretary Chiv Sivpheng voiced disappointment in the number of projects approved by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction year-to-date as well as their aggregate investment commitment.

The construction ministry reported that it greenlit 2,811 construction projects in January-August 2022 with total registered investment of $1.662 billion – down by 90 developments and 56.7 per cent in terms of value over the same time last year.

Of these, 2,521 or 89.7 per cent were residential projects, down from 2,530 in the same eight-month period last year.

Sivpheng maintained that these numbers would remain depressed unless global political and economic uncertainty recedes to more moderate levels.

“What we have now is mostly existing projects, and there are only local investors. More time is needed for high-rises, which require large amounts of investment capital,” he said.


  • 12th Cambodia int’l film festival to see return of Hollywood star

    Phnom Penh is set to come alive with the magic of cinema as the highly anticipated 12th Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF) takes centre stage. Boasting an impressive line-up of 188 films from 23 countries, including captivating shorts, feature films, documentaries and animation, the festival promises an

  • Bareknuckle champion wants Kun Khmer fighter

    Dave Leduc, who is the current openweight Lethwei boxing champion in Myanmar, has announced that he will travel to Cambodia this year to challenge SEA Games gold medallist Prum Samnang any time that is convenient, after their planned match later this month in Slovakia was

  • Brawl marrs football final as Indonesian take gold in seven goal thriller

    The Indonesian men's U22 men national football team were crowned champions of the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia, defeating Thailand 5-2 in extra time on May 16 at Olympic National Stadium in Phnom Penh. The match was marred by an ugly incident that occured in the 91

  • 1.4 billion dollar Phnom Penh-Bavet expressway due in four years

    The Government, through the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, has officially signed a public-private partnership agreement with a private company for the construction of a Phnom Penh-Bavet Expressway project that will connect the capital to Svay Rieng province. The budget for the project is

  • Fresh Covid warnings as Thai hospital fills

    A senior health official reminds the public to remain vigilant, as neighbouring countries experience an increase in Covid-19 cases, with the latest surge appearing to be a result of the Omicron XBB.1.5 sub-variant. Or Vandine, secretary of state and spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health,

  • New Law on Taxation comes into effect

    Cambodia has enacted the eagerly-awaited new Law on Taxation, which aims to improve the national tax regime’s compliance with present and future international standards and economic conditions; encourage accountability, effectiveness and transparency in the collection process; and promote investment in the Kingdom. King Norodom