Bilateral commodity trade between Cambodia and Japan in the first nine months of 2022 reached $1.500 billion, up 15.11 per cent year-on-year, while the Kingdom’s trade surplus with the island nation shrunk 16.02 per cent to $295.889 million, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE).

Cambodian exports to Japan accounted for $897.695 million, up 8.48 per cent on a yearly basis from $827.494 million, and imports were to the tune of $601.806 million, up 26.65 per cent year-on-year from $475.179 million, GDCE statistics indicate.

Speaking to The Post on October 20, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng said there had been a steady stream of new Japanese companies entering the Cambodian market, with a strong penchant for the Kingdom’s special economic zones (SEZ), which he said has driven up goods exports to Japan.

Heng believes that foreign players see Japanese investment as an indicator of a country’s political stability and security situation, as well as the favourability of its investment laws and strength of its export market.

Japan has also contributed to Cambodia’s economic growth through human resource training as well as by building roads and infrastructure, he said, noting that both countries are signatories to the world’s largest trade pact, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.

“Japan is a valuable market for Cambodian products, there are loads of goods that the Kingdom sells there,” he said, stating that Cambodia will most likely diversify its exports to Japan going forward.

Inspired by the lucrative Japanese export market, the CCC recently opened a representative office in Sendai, Japan, to “help promote better trade relations between the two countries and also help attract more Japanese investors to Cambodia”, according to Heng.

He expressed hope that direct flights between Cambodia and Japan would resume soon following a Covid-19 hiatus.

Cambodia’s main exports to Japan are garments, footwear, general components, and agricultural products, while import include vehicles, agriculture and other specialised machinery, and electronics, Heng said.

According to the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), Japan is the fifth biggest investor in Cambodia after China, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam. Japanese investors in the Kingdom largely operate in industry, banking, hotels and tourism, construction and real estate, and especially supermarkets and retail, restaurants and services.

Last year, Cambodia-Japan trade totalled $1.734 billion, up 1.21 per cent over 2020, with exports to Japan clocking in at $1.094 billion, up 2.95 per cent, and imports $640.513 million, down 1.63 per cent, according to the GDCE. The Kingdom’s trade surplus with Japan expanded 10.2 per cent to $453.116 million.