Cambodia's non-gold exports reached $11.010 billion in the first eight months of this year, surging by 20.4 per cent year-on-year, while the analogous imports amounted to $14.6 billion, marking a 26.7 per cent year-on-year jump, the Ministry of Economy and Finance reported.

This means that the Kingdom’s non-gold trade deficit over January-August expanded by around 50 per cent, to more than $3.5 billion. Total trade grew by nearly 24 per cent to over $25.5 billion.

The ministry said the growth in exports was buoyed by increased shipments of bicycles, furniture, hides and skins, rubber, plank boards, solar panels, insulated wires and cables, electronic components and agricultural products.

It added that the surge in imports was propelled by an uptick in purchases of goods such as fabrics, construction materials and fuel.

The Cambodian economy continues to be affected by the Covid-19 crisis – especially after the February 20 community event – which drags on to date and exerts pressure on key indicators of economic growth, it said.

However, non-garment merchandise continued to enjoy significant growth in international sales, it added, highlighting bicycles, electronic components, wood-based goods and other agricultural products as notable examples.

"Cambodia's economy is expected to grow positively in 2021 due to the recovery of the global economic situation, the economies of Cambodia's trading partners, combined with a boost from a number of sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, non-garments, transport and communications and the possibility of diverting orders and garment factories from Myanmar to Cambodia," the ministry claimed.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on October 4 that Cambodian trade has remained in growth territory, even as the global Covid-19 pandemic perdures.

He contended that year-on-year export and import growth figures above 20 per cent can be considered exceptional rates.

Heng attributes Cambodia’s expansion in non-gold trade deficit over January-August to substantial volumes of raw materials purchased to support production in the Kingdom, along with processing for export to international markets.

"I remain optimistic about Cambodia's international trade, especially the growth of exports through the bilateral Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement and [a similar deal] with South Korea soon," he said.

In early August, the government downgraded its economic forecast for 2021 to 2.5 per cent from the 4.1 per cent projection announced at the beginning of the year, citing the deteriorating Covid-19 situation.

Noting continuing downward trends in Covid-19 infections, serious cases and deaths, Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth recently said Cambodia would soon be able to fully reopen social-economic activities, predicting that the economy would likely show high growth momentum.

Late last month, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) pegged the economic growth rate for 2021 at 2.2 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively, with both institutions bringing up the prolongation of the Covid-19 outbreak.

In 2020, the Kingdom’s exports reached $17.21537 billion, up 16.72 per cent year-on-year from $14.74874 billion, and imports stood at $18.59048 billion, down 7.84 per cent year-on-year from $20.17181 billion, according to the Ministry of Commerce.