Cambodian exports to the US market ballooned 23 per cent to $2.75 billion in the first half of this year from $2.24 billion in the same period last year, data from the US Census Bureau showed.
The growth was underpinned by shipments of travel-related products such as handbags, backpacks and suitcases, which are granted preferential tariffs under an amendment to the US’ Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme that went into effect in July 2016.
Since then, the Kingdom’s exports to the US have enjoyed significant growth every year.
However, Cambodian-made clothing and footwear products are not included in the GSP regime.
Meanwhile, the data show the Kingdom imported $144.6 million worth of goods in the six months ended June 30, slipping 45.43 per cent on a yearly basis.
Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) secretary-general Ken Loo noted that the US has become the primary recipient of the Kingdom’s core exports.
“Garments, shoes and travel goods remain our main exports to the US,” he said.
Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesman Heng Sour said the Kingdom exported $3.784 billion worth of garment, textile and footwear (GTF) products to the international market in the first half of this year, dipping 5.4 per cent from more than $4 billion in the same period last year.
He said this when speaking at a press conference on the government’s Covid-19 response measures held at the Ministry of Economy and Finance on July 8.
“The root cause for the slump is the repercussions generated by Covid-19, resulting in orders incrementally drying up. This downturn not only affects the garment sector in Cambodia, but the whole world,” he said.
In the first half of this year, he said 450 garment and footwear factories in Cambodia suspended work while 83 factories closed.
Of these, he said 10 have turned to manufacturing face masks, which are currently in high demand in the international market.
Notwithstanding the drop in GTF exports logged in the first half, finance ministry permanent secretary of state Vongsey Vissoth underscored the substantial growth in shipments of bicycles and milled rice seen during the period.
He told the conference: “Garment exports to European markets were down but those to the US have come roaring back, which is why our exports dropped a smidge.”
A National Bank of Cambodia report released on March 4 said the Kingdom’s trade deficit with the rest of the world continued to widen last year to $7.76 billion, a more than 31 per cent increase compared to the previous year.
The Kingdom imported some $22.34 billion worth of goods last year while it exported only $14.63 billion.
The central bank’s figures showed that the year-on-year growth rate in imports was 18.6 per cent last year, while exports lagged at 12.7 per cent.
Cambodia mainly exported textiles, shoes, rice and bicycles and imported oil, vehicles, construction materials, food and beverage, and raw materials for the manufacturing sector, the report said.