Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Malaysia was worth $205.2 million in the first four months of 2022, surging by over one-third from nearly $152.9 million from the corresponding period last year, according to Customs.
In January-April, Cambodian exports to Malaysia amounted to $35.2 million, down by 1.9 per cent year-on-year, while imports were $170 million, up by 46 per cent on a yearly basis, General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia data show.
Cambodia’s trade deficit with Malaysia expanded to $134.8 million over the same period.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, stressed that deficits per se were nothing to worry about in the context of international trade.
He explained that some countries have high demand for certain items produced elsewhere, and that others need to import natural resources or semi-finished products to meet domestic consumption and export needs.
“Seeing a sharp deficit does not mean that Cambodia imports goods from Malaysia exclusively for domestic consumption, some of the imports are represented by the components or machinery required for production to export to international markets,” Vanak told The Post.
Regardless, he urged the Kingdom to further diversify domestic production to trim imports and support an uptick in exports to Malaysia and further afield.
At a February meeting between Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak and Malaysian trade and industry minister Mohamed Azmin Ali, both sides pledged to further boost bilateral trade and committed to maintaining open markets and facilitating investment to achieve that end.
Sorasak highlighted the essential role in economic recovery and the promotion of growth taken by private businesses, which he said are supported by legal frameworks governing matters such as public-private partnerships, investment and competition.
The minister called on Azmin’s delegation to encourage existing and new Malaysian players to explore more investment opportunities in the Kingdom, citing as examples milled-rice and other agricultural exports, as well as training in food production techniques for domestic and international supply, with an emphasis on halal requirements.
Azmin agreed to persuade more Malaysian businesspeople to invest in Cambodia and commended the government for creating a positive business and investment climate.
Cambodia’s exports to Malaysia generally include milled rice, palm oil, peppercorn, fabrics and industrial products, while major imports comprise auto parts, food and beverages, and electronics.
In 2021, bilateral trade between the two countries topped $500 million, up by 13.14 per cent compared to 2020. Cambodian exports to Malaysia were worth more than $101 million, an uptick of 2.62 per cent, and imports passed $399 million, increasing by 16.16 per cent, according to the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).