Bilateral trade between Cambodia and South Korea were to the tune of $661.15 million in the first nine months of this year, down 15 per cent from the same period last year, according to data compiled by the Korea International Trade Association (Kita).
The Kingdom exported more than $246.20 million worth of goods to South Korea, down 4.9 per cent year-on-year, and imported $414.95 million, down 20 per cent year-on-year, its tabulations show.
Exports to South Korea mostly comprised of clothes, footwear, travel goods, beverages, components for electronic equipment, rubber, pharmaceuticals and agricultural products, Kita said.
Meanwhile, it said, the Kingdom mainly imported vehicles, electronics, kitchen appliances, beverages, pharmaceuticals and plastic products.
Mao Sothea, a sales manager at Kirirom Food Product Co Ltd, a mango processor and exporter, told The Post that the Covid-19 economic shutdown has hurt her company’s dried-mango exports.
She said her company exported about 2,000 tonnes of dried mango to international markets in the first nine months of this year, of which South Korean-bound shipments took a 50 per cent year-on-year plunge.
“Orders from new and existing [South Korean] customers were stagnant. The global economic downturn may be the main culprit, but the fact that our product is not a daily necessity like milled rice is also responsible for the muted demand. We exported only about three tonnes of dried mango to Korea during the period,” Sothea said.
However, she voiced her optimism that the upcoming Cambodia-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will open the door for Cambodian products to flow into the Korean market and breed new opportunities for investors from both countries to find trade partners.
“Considering the plethora of potential products at our disposal such as fresh and dehydrated mangoes, cashew nuts and pepper, I believe that the FTA will help perk up Cambodia’s export figures,” Sothea said.
She said the FTA will also give a shot in the arm to the Kingdom’s market value competitiveness and place it in an improved position to capitalise on international market opportunities.
“We need to work on tightening our quality and hygiene standards and ensuring greater numbers for export in order to have a better shot at penetrating into the Korean market.
“We also have the chance to get a better feel for Korean market trends, enabling our investors to come up with innovative ideas for new products to meet the needs of the Korean market,” Sothea said.
Cambodian ambassador to South Korea Long Dimanche told The Post that a number of the Kingdom’s agricultural products have made their debut on the South Korean market, including fresh mangoes and yellow bananas.
He said the embassy team is working to attract Koreans investors to the Kingdom.
“We will strive to entice Korean investors into working with our guys back home. As I see it, cooperation between Korean and Cambodian investors in all areas is crucial to enhance our competitiveness in attracting [foreign] investment into Cambodia,” he said.
Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Korea reached more than $1 billion last year, up six per cent from 2018, according to data from Kita. The Kingdom exported $336 million worth of goods and imported $697 million.