Cambodia and Australia on September 5 reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening bilateral trade cooperation, as trade between the two countries in the first seven months of 2022 witnessed a 127.1 per cent jump on a yearly basis.

This came during a meeting between Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak and Australian ambassador to Cambodia Pablo Kang at the commerce ministry, the ministry affirmed in a statement.

From January-July, trade between the two countries amounted to $320.210 million, versus the $140.996 million logged in the year-ago period, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia.

Cambodian exports to Australia accounted for $222.498 million, soaring by 192.4 per cent, and imports $97.712 million, rising by 50.56 per cent. The Kingdom’s trade surplus with Australia for the period stood at $124.786 million, expanding by 1,015 per cent from $11.195 million.

Speaking at the September 5 meeting, the minister lauded the record of cooperation between the two countries, and highlighted the progress made on the “priority economic deliverables” (PED) under the Kingdom’s 2022 ASEAN rotating chairmanship, especially on talks for an upgrade to the 12-nation ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA).

In turn, Kang also reaffirmed his commitment to further enhancing trade cooperation between Cambodia and Australia, according to the statement.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng commented on the long history of trade between the two countries, and of Australian investors engaged in the Cambodian market.

After the 15-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – the world’s largest trade pact – entered effect on January 1 in Cambodia and Australia, the governments and private sectors of both countries have been working to bolster bilateral trade, he said, predicting that “exports and imports between the two countries will be much larger in the future”.

Hong Vanak, an economist at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, believes that the Kingdom must leverage Australia’s position as a developed country and high-income economy, and push to ramp up production as well as shift more exports to the Land Down Under by taking advantage of the RCEP.

Echoing Heng’s prediction, Vanak said the reduction in tariff barriers under the pact will stimulate further growth in trade.

He listed textile-related items, bicycles and agricultural products as major Cambodian exports to Australia, and electronics and vehicles as key imports.

Last year, bilateral trade between the two countries was worth $324 million, rising by 52 per cent from $213.64 million in 2020, according to commerce ministry data.