Singaporean Minister of Commerce and Industry Gan Kim Yong has reiterated the city-state’s commitment to strengthening bilateral trade cooperation with Cambodia, as he pledged full support in helping the Kingdom succeed during its chairmanship of ASEAN, according to the Cambodian commerce ministry on March 14.

Gan made the remarks during a video conference with Cambodian Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak on March 14, held to strengthen Cambodia-Singapore trade relations and discuss Cambodia’s readiness to organise and chair the 28th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Retreat on March 16-17, the ministry said in a statement.

“Singapore is committed to further trade cooperation with Cambodia, and in particular to achieving 2022 priority economic deliverables [PED] and 2022 employment priorities under the pillars of the ASEAN Economic Community during its ASEAN chairmanship in 2022,” the statement quoted Gan as saying.

Singapore and Cambodia have had formal diplomatic and trade relations for nearly 57 years, with Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, noting that trade and investment by Singaporean entities in Cambodia have been “especially positive” since 2010.

As a country with strong economic growth both regionally and globally, Singapore’s commitment to supporting the growth of the Cambodian economy is an “important element” in creating new opportunities that can accelerate the Kingdom’s economic growth, Vanak said.

“This is a further boost to the confidence of foreign investors to come and invest in Cambodia both during and after the Covid-19 crisis, especially as it [the commitment] is coming from Singapore. This will also help expand the trade volume between the two countries.”

The highest volume products that Cambodia exports to Singapore are textile-related goods, agriculture and jewellery, while common merchandise that Singapore imports to Cambodia are fuel, office supplies, beverages, industrial chemicals and electronic equipment.

According to data from the Ministry of Commerce, bilateral trade between Cambodia and Singapore amounted to $4.3688 billion in the first 10 months of 2021, up by 51.27 per cent over $2.8882 billion in same period of 2020.

During the period in 2021, Cambodia’s exports totalled $112.3 million, down by 95.47 per cent, and imports from Singapore clocked in at $4.25647 billion, increasing by 938.12 per cent.

Addressing the trade deficit, Vanak said that Cambodia must make more efforts to diversify its export products in order to increase export potential as well as reduce the trade balance deficit.

Data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) show that as of the end of the first half of 2021, foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Kingdom was worth $39 billion, with an average annual growth rate of 9.6 per cent.

Singapore was the fourth largest investor in Cambodia with $2.4 billion, accounting for 6.4 per cent of FDI in the Kingdom.