The merchandise trade volume between Cambodia and Canada reached $192.720 million in the first quarter of 2023, making the world’s ninth largest economy the Kingdom’s 10th biggest trading partner for the three-month period, according to Customs (GDCE).

However, despite a rebound in March, this marks a 21.61 per cent drop from the $245.855 million registered in January-March 2022, and a 24.0 per cent dip from the $253.56 million recorded in October-December, provisional GDCE statistics indicate.

Observers have attributed this to a climate of general uncertainty about the global economic outlook, noting that comparable declines have been reported worldwide over the period.

In January-March 2023, Cambodian goods exports to Canada totalled $190.067 million, down 21.27 per cent year-on-year from $241.417 million and down 22.65 per cent quarter-on-quarter from $245.73 million.

Cambodian imports from Canada came to $2.653 million, down 40.2 per cent year-on-year from $4.438 million and down 66.1 per cent quarter-on-quarter from $7.83 million.

The Kingdom logged a quarterly trade surplus with Canada of $187.414 million, shrinking by 20.9 per cent year-on-year from $236.979 million and 21.22 per cent quarter-on-quarter from $237.90 million.

Just as Cambodia’s international trade witnessed a 14.52 per cent year-on-year dip in the first quarter, Canada too has reported similar reductions.

Canada’s total exports and imports – including goods and services – were $79.0 billion and $80.8 billion in February, down 2.2 per cent and 1.0 per cent from January’s figures, according to the latest numbers from the Office of the Chief Economist.

‘Almost every country’

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on May 1 that “almost every country” has seen reductions in international trade-related activities since end-2022, as people tighten their spending amid economic crises associated with the Russo-Ukrainian conflict and geopolitical rows among major powers.

“Trade between Cambodia and Canada decreased in the first quarter due to declines in consumer demand,” he said, commenting that lower trade figures have been logged across the globe in the three month period.

Nonetheless, international trade the world over is said to be recovering, especially now as the Chinese economy regains its momentum following the country’s post-pandemic reopening, he claimed.

In March alone, the two-way merchandise trade between Cambodia and Canada came to $70.37 million, up 4.1 per cent from $67.58 million in March 2022 and up 4.2 per cent from $67.54 million in February 2023, according to the GDCE.

Cambodian exports to Canada stood at $69.398 million, up 6.31 per cent year-on-year from $65.278 million and up 4.1 per cent month-on-month from $66.693 million, while imports were $0.97 million, down 58 per cent year-on-year from $2.30 million but up nearly one-sixth month-on-month from $0.84 million.

The Kingdom registered a monthly trade surplus with Canada of $68.43 million in March, expanding by 8.7 per cent year-on-year from $63.0 million and 3.91 per cent month-on-month from $65.85 million.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng drew attention to the observed correlation between international events and foreign trade, remarking that significant negative issues tend to result in disruptions to trade.

He attributed the year-on-year fall in Cambodia-Canada trade in the first quarter to the Russo-Ukrainian conflict and overall global economic woes.

An end to the armed conflict would “surely” allow for international trade momentum to build, as well as enable a recovery in Cambodian exports to Canada and other “key target” markets, he posited.

“I’m confident that international trade between Cambodia and Canada will continue to show positive signs from the second quarter onwards,” Heng said, adding that the CCC’s representative office in Toronto is working to find markets for Cambodian goods as well as attract direct investment from Canada to the Kingdom.

According to Heng, priority Cambodian exports to Canada encompass garments, footwear and travel goods, electrical and electronic components, and bicycles, while the bulk of imports comprise electronics.

Ninth largest investor

Cumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into Cambodia between the August 5, 1994 promulgation of the old Law on Investment and December 31, 2021 amounted to 168.8 trillion riel, or $41.0 billion, rising by 11.2 per cent from the nearly 152 trillion riel recorded by end-2020, according to the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC).

Canada was the ninth largest investor in the Kingdom for the 10,011-day period, with $1.1 billion, or a 2.8 per cent market share, after – in order of descending value – the Greater China region (comprising mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and the UK.

According to the GDCE, the Cambodia-Canada merchandise trade in 2022 was valued at $1.154 billion, up 16.06 per cent against 2021.

Cambodian goods exports to and imports from Canada amounted to $1.121 billion and $33.877 million, respectively up 17.36 per cent and down 15.07 per cent year-on-year, expanding the Kingdom’s trade surplus with the American country by 18.77 per cent to $1.087 billion versus $914.940 million in 2021.

Canada was the fifth largest buyer of Cambodian merchandise in 2022, accounting for 4.98 per cent of the global total of $22.483 billion, compared to the top four: the US ($8.969 billion; 39.89%), Vietnam ($2.169 billion; 9.65%), mainland China ($1.241 billion; 5.52%) and Japan ($1.173 billion; 5.22%).