Cambodia exported goods totalling more than $20 billion during the first 11 months of 2023, marking a slight increase compared to the same period last year.

The country’s trade deficit has shown a positive shift, declining from over $3 billion to just above $1.5 billion, as reported by the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) on December 11.

The data indicates that between January and November 2023, the Kingdom exported goods worth $20.49 billion. This shows a 1.2% increase from the $20.24 billion recorded during the same period last year. The country’s imports totalled $22 billion, a decrease of 5.4% from $23.27 billion.

The country’s total trade volume reached $42.5 billion for the period, a decrease of 2.3% from $43.51 billion year-on-year. Trade for the period resulted in a deficit of about $1.5 billion for Cambodia, an improvement from the $3.02 billion deficit recorded in the same period of 2022.

In November 2023, trade reached $3.83 billion, a 6.5% increase from $3.6 billion year-on-year. The country’s exports amounted to $1.9 billion, rising by 12.5%, while imports reached $1.93 billion, an increase of 1.2%.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), noted on November 11 that despite the slower growth rate of the country’s exports compared to last year, the progress is significant in the context of global political and economic instability. 

He also observed that during periods of limited individual or national economic growth, there is a tendency for people to curtail unnecessary expenses beyond daily food needs.

He added that the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) has approved the establishment of more factories, which is expected to boost the country’s production capacity. 

“When global economic growth recovers, Cambodia’s exports will likely increase further. While imports for daily needs may slightly decrease due to increased domestic production, the supply of raw materials for processing and export production will expand,” he stated.

Heng attributed the rise in exports to the international recognition of the quality of Cambodian goods, the expansion of export markets and the benefits of preferential tariffs from bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTAs), as well as favourable tariffs from several countries.

Ly Kunthai, president of the Cambodia Footwear Association (CFA), stated that after more than a year of sharp decline, the export market for footwear, gaiters and related items is showing signs of improvement. 

“We are optimistic that orders will pick up somewhat in 2024,” he said.

In 2022, the Kingdom’s international trade was valued at $52.42 billion, a 9.2% increase from over $48 billion the previous year. Exports totalled $22.48 billion, up by 16.4%, while imports were nearly $30 billion, rising by 4.3%, as per the GDCE.