Cambodia has shown a significant increase in export activity to South Korea, surpassing $281 million in 2023, marking an over 20% rise compared to 2022, with bilateral trade volume exceeding $751 million year-on-year, as reported by the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

Exports to Korea amounted to $281.14 million, a 20.3% increase from the year prior. Imports from Korea totalled $470.25 million in 2023, representing a 13.8% decrease from 2022. 

Bilateral trade reached approximately $751.38 million, a 3.5% decline.

Cambodia’s trade deficit stood at $189.11 million for 2023, a substantial reduction from the $311.65 million recorded in 2022. 

Korea currently ranks as Cambodia’s 12th-largest trade partner, following countries and territories such as China, the US, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Germany, Canada, Singapore, the UK and Taiwan.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on January 21 that despite the low global economic growth rate in 2023 impacting international trade, the Kingdom’s export value to Korea has largely increased.

He said the surge is indicative of the growing recognition and appreciation of Cambodian goods in the Korean market.

Vanak added that the country is attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) projects from numerous Korean investors. 

He said the influx of investment is not only generating employment for locals but is also enabling the nation to lessen its reliance on imported finished products, thereby elevating its export reputation.

“The escalation in exports signifies the successful diversification of Cambodian products in the Korean market, which is among the world’s rapidly expanding economies. We are witnessing a progressive reduction in the trade gap, suggesting positive future trends,” he said.

Vanak also pointed out that, despite the trade imbalance, the deficit could be offset by the remittances from Cambodian workers in Korea, which amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, identified Korea as a key market for exports such as garments, footwear, agricultural products, electrical equipment and electronic components.

Imports from Korea cover products such as automobiles, agricultural machinery, electronics, pharmaceuticals, food and beverages and daily necessities, according to the GDCE.

Heng highlighted the bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) between Cambodia and Korea and their participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest FTA. 

He anticipates a rise in trade volume between the two countries as the global economy recovers.

“I am optimistic that the value of exports and imports between the two nations will continue to grow, particularly Cambodian exports, which have seen rapid expansion over the last decade,” he said.

According to the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), FDI in the Kingdom stood at about $45.8 billion as of the first quarter of 2023, marking a 9% increase year-on-year. Korea was the second-largest investor in the country, contributing $5.5 billion, up 10.4% from the first quarter of 2022.