Cambodia netted $164.7 million from exports to South Korea in the first seven months of 2023, an increase of 21.6 per cent compared to $135.5 million in the same period in 2022, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE).

Bilateral trade fell 8.3 per cent year-on-year to $447.1 million versus $487.5 million as imports from South Korea declined 19.8 per cent to $282.3 million from $352 million a year ago.

However, Cambodia experienced a lower trade deficit at $117.6 million in the period as opposed to $216.5 million in 2022.

South Korea is Cambodia’s 12th largest trading partner, with China being the lead, followed by the US, Vietnam and Thailand.

In July 2023 alone, trade volume rose 6.8 per cent to $70.6 million between the two countries compared to July 2022, GDCE data showed. Of that, Cambodia’s exports grew 15.7 per cent to $48.6 million while imports from South Korea slipped 8.8 per cent to $22 million.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economic researcher Hong Vannak told The Post on August 22 that the Cambodia-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) have opened up opportunities for Cambodia to diversify products and expand exports in South Korea and other overseas markets.

“Increased exports and declining imports could indicate that production capacity in Cambodia is increasing, which is a good sign for the fundamentals of the national economy. These are positive signs in terms of exports to South Korea in the future,” he said.

Besides export-import goods, Cambodia receives remittances from citizens working in South Korea.

Previously, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng has said that thanks to the CKFTA and RCEP, the flow of trade between the two countries has progressed more smoothly, especially agricultural exports.

There is growth potential for Cambodian agricultural products in the South Korean market as the quality and capacity of cultivation and processing in Cambodia is steadily improving.

Investors from South Korea keen on producing and processing agricultural items in Cambodia for export to their country and other markets are also increasing.

“Cambodia’s international trade volume would see positive changes when the current geopolitical crisis and economic uncertainty ends,” he said.

According to Lim Heng, exports to South Korea consist of garments, footwear, travel products and agricultural products, while imports from South Korea include automotives, agricultural machinery, electronic products, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage.

As of March 31 this year, the National Bank of Cambodia said foreign direct investment in Cambodia was about $45.8 billion, an increase of nine per cent compared to the end of the first quarter of 2022.

South Korea came in second with $5.5 billion, up 10.4 per cent from the first quarter of 2022.

In 2022, GDCE showed that bilateral trade between Cambodia and Korea amounted to $778.9 million, which is an increase of 0.6 per cent compared to 2021.

Of that, Cambodia exported $233.6 million, up 20.4 percent while imports dipped six per cent to $545.3 million.