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Petroleum imports surge on economic growth

Petroleum imports surge on economic growth

A RESURGENT economy and efforts to crack down on smuggling have led to a large increase in petroleum imports, according to experts.

Cambodia has imported 756,139 tonnes worth US$692 million in the first half of the year, from 440,607 tonnes worth $296 million in the six-month period in 2010, Ministry of Commerce statistics obtained yesterday show.

University of Cambodia Economics lecturer Chheng Kimlong said the increase augured well for the Kingdom’s economy.

“It’s a sign showing that industrial production has improved as demand for petroleum grows,” he said.

Bin May Malia, marketing division manager at Thai fuel retailer PTT, said government measures to curb smuggling was also pushing growth in official import figures.

“I think this is contributing to the increase,” he said.

However, PTT has seen a slight decrease in its imports. PTT is a major supplier of fuel for Cambodia to generate electricity, but the Kingdom has increasingly imported electricity, which has curbed demand somewhat for the firm’s fuel.

Cambodia now does not produce its own petroleum, though government officials have expressed hope that oil extraction will begin in offshore Block A by the end of 2012.

Ministry of Commerce daily commodity data shows gasoline prices in Phnom Penh have increased about 12 percent this year to 5,500 riel per litre, compared with 4,900 riel at the start of the year.

Chheng Kimlong said the government subsidies some fuel and also imposed a fuel tax, which could be lowered to reduce prices for consumers.

“We are an emerging economy so we need to use plenty of imported energy to supply production,” he said.

The end user pays between 700 to 1,000 riel extra per litre at the pumps due to fuel taxes, he added.

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