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Kingdom-Japan trade slips 8% in 2020

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The Kingdom’s trade surplus with Japan was $1.130 billion last year. Heng Chivoan

Kingdom-Japan trade slips 8% in 2020

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Japan was worth $2.09957 billion last year, down 8.45 per cent from 2019, data from Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) show.

Cambodia exported $1.615 billion worth of merchandise to Japan last year, down 6.7 per cent, and imported $484.699 million, down 13.8 per cent. The Kingdom’s trade surplus with Japan was $1.130 billion.

Notable Cambodian exports to Japan were garments, bags, footwear, furniture, cosmetics, paper, office supplies and leather goods, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Arrivals from Japan included machinery, automobiles, electronics, furniture, fabrics and plastics.

JETRO Phnom Penh Office chief representative Marisa Haruta on February 3 said Cambodia has made one of the fastest recoveries from Covid-19 in ASEAN, citing a survey of Japanese companies in Cambodia.

She was speaking at the first edition of Japanese products showcase “Good Goods Japan 2021” in the Kingdom.

Through a number of online programmes and projects, JETRO is working to ramp up business and maintain the Kingdom’s sizeable trade surplus with Japan, she said.

“In a joint spirit, we are committed to working more closely with the Ministry of Commerce, the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce [CCC] and the Cambodian business community, and we expect that many Japanese programmes and projects will be present in Cambodia in the future. We need to work together to create business together,” Haruta said.

CCC director-general Nguon Meng Tech said the Japanese play an important role in increasing Cambodian economic development, with investment from the country rapidly rising over the past decade.

With more than 1,500 Japanese investors in Cambodia, he stressed that the Kingdom boasts an abundance of exciting, largely untapped potential in diverse sectors such as food processing, eco-tourism, manufacturing and human resource development.

“Cambodia has signed the RCEP [Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership] and free trade agreements with China and [soon with] South Korea that will enable the market to expand and the economy to flourish.

“Worth mentioning is Cambodia’s strategic location for partnerships, with the utmost suitability as a production base and eased access to international marketing channels,” Meng Tech said.

The 2021 minimum wage for the textile, garment and footwear sector is $192 for regular workers and $187 for probationary ones.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post that the Covid-19 outbreak had stymied bilateral trade between the two countries, leading to the slight decrease in trade volume posted last year.

“Trade relations between the two countries this year will be greater than last year, and Japanese-made goods will be in demand on the Cambodian market again now that Cambodia has started Covid-19 vaccinations,” Vanak said.

Between 1994 and the end of last month, the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) had approved 144 Japanese investment projects worth $2.79 billion, 66 of which are in special economic zones (SEZ) with $340 million in capital investment, it said in a press release.

CDC secretary-general Sok Chenda Sophea said Japanese investors play an important role in contributing to Cambodia’s economic growth, even as the world grapples with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Their continued investment in Cambodia is a testament to the commitment of Japanese investor, which builds up strong confidence in the Royal Government of Cambodia,” he said.

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