Bilateral trade between Cambodia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) was worth $67.37 million last year, marking an increase of 18.22 per cent compared to 2019’s $56.98 million, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce.
Of that, the Kingdom exported $52.19 million, inching up 0.73 per cent year-on-year from $51.81 million in 2019, and imported $15.18 million, ballooning a colossal 193.57 per cent from $5.17 million.
Comprising five member states – Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia – the EAEU is home to 184.6 million people and represents a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $4.778 trillion, according to International Monetary Fund estimates for 2020.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on February 11 that the bloc’s vast population and thriving economies represent a vital target market for the Kingdom’s goods.
“The pick-up in trade between Cambodia and the EAEU is welcome news, and comes as Cambodia ramps up production of high-quality merchandise for export to international markets,” he said.
According to Heng, the better part of the Kingdom’s exports to the bloc comprised of agricultural products and textiles, while imports consisted of machinery, tractors and spare parts for agricultural machinery.
Hong Vanak, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Economics Department, said the trade numbers were a great deal amid the gloom of the Covid-19 outbreak.
He stressed that the bloc would provide the Kingdom a valuable alternative to the EU as a trade destination and countervail some of the disruptive effects of the withdrawal of the ‘Everything But Arms’ (EBA) trade scheme.
On August 12, the European Commission (EC) officially withdrew 20 per cent of EBA from Cambodia. The suspension affects one-fifth or €1 billion ($1.2 billion) of the Kingdom’s annual exports to the bloc.
“The amount of trade will be further unleashed once Covid-19 is over,” Vanak added. “Based on the data, we can conclude that the EAEU is a market that has explored the possibility of buying products from Cambodia – this is precisely what we want. [The numbers] also indicate that Cambodia boasts goods that meet the EAEU’s requirements.”
After signing the agreed minutes on the conclusion of negotiations over the Cambodia-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) via video link on February 3, commerce minister Pan Sorasak said the Kingdom is pushing for scoping studies on similar deals with, among others, India, the UK and EAEU.
“We’ve met with a handful of countries to envisage FTA [free trade agreement] negotiations. We’re willing to open up the Cambodian market and allow our people to export products and balance commercial priorities, in a bid to endeavour side-by-side and reap good results,” he said.
Cambodia’s total international trade was valued at $35.81 billion last year, up 2.52 per cent from $34.92 billion in 2019, according to data from the ministry.