Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Japan slid 5.71 per cent to $1.175 million in the first seven months of this year, from $1.246 million on a yearly basis, data from State-run agency Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) show.
Goods exported from Cambodia to Japan were worth nearly $914.41 million during the period, down three per cent year-on-year from $942.98 billion. Imports from Japan were worth $260.73 million, down by 14.06 per cent year-on-year from $303.4 million.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on Monday that Covid-19 has brought on a gradual decline in global trade, especially manifest in the second and third quarters.
The pandemic not only trimmed demand for goods, but also spawned restrictions that impeded travel, he said.
“Before Covid-19, trade volume and the number of tourists between Cambodia and Japan enjoyed a surge on a yearly basis, but the hustle and bustle has yet to return to its former vibrancy,” Heng said.
Though the world has gained limited control of the disease, Heng is hesitant to make a forecast of bilateral trade figures for the remainder of this year.
Aside from Covid-19, Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Hong Vanak attributed the drop in trade figures to Japan’s currently shrinking economy.
Japan’s trade figures have plummeted with almost all of its trading partners, he said. In the face of economic growth slowdown fuelled by Covid-19, the country now is plagued by a flurry of national and regional security issues.
“A speedy, full recovery of Cambodian-Japanese trade is not likely soon, but is possible in 2021 as the number of Japanese investors in Cambodia in areas such as agriculture, tourism and construction has been picking up as of late,” Vanak said.
Chhour Vichet, CEO of Sanco-Poipet Special Economic Zone (SPSEZ) operator Sanco Cambo Investment Group Co Ltd, told The Post in July that the slip in Cambodian exports to Japan had been caused by a slowdown in Japanese companies’ auto parts production in SPSEZ during April-May.
He noted that production at the industrial park have picked up since June, but that exports of electronics and computer spare parts saw “huge” unimpeded growth in the first half.
Between 1995 and September, there were 141 Japanese investment projects with $2.5 billion in capital investment, data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia show.
Of these, 66 were in special economic zones with an estimated capital investment of $340 million.
Most of the projects were in the energy, electronic component assembly, auto spare parts, agro-industry, food processing, hospitality, health and retail sectors, the data show.
Cambodian exports to Japan reached $1.7 billion last year, up 7.7 per cent from 2018, Jetro data show.