Photo by Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
A worker loads a truck with corn in Pailin province last year.
Export to Vietnam climbed more than 57 per cent year on year in the first quarter of 2012 as farmers looked for alternative destinations for products that went to Thailand last year.
The primarily agricultural exports to Cambodia’s eastern neighbour were worth US$201.5 million, up from $127.7 million between January and March last year, data from the Vietnam Trade Office showed.
A shrinkage in orders from Thailand this year had sent the Kingdom’s farmers looking for new markets, many of which were found in Vietnam, Chan Nora, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Commerce, said yesterday.
“Our farmers sold their exports to Vietnam at any cost. They cannot wait for the products to spoil or be damaged,” he said, referring to delayed orders from Thailand.
Thai restrictions on Cambodian products such as cassava were also reported this year.
Industry insiders in Banteay Meanchey province said earlier this year half the province’s cassava had gone unharvested after Thai authorities imposed a ban on the crop, the Post reported in January.
Cambodia’s main exports to Vietnam were seafood, corn, tobacco and rubber. Trade with Thailand and the shift to Vietnam caused instability in the market for Cambodians – something new trade deals with China were hoped to remedy.
“Before long, our prices will be much more stable because we are getting direct export access to China without passing through a second country,” Chan Nora said.
“Now [the ministry] is try ing to overcome some requirements from China so we can export to them directly.”
Cambodia and Vietnam will look to meet a $2 billion bilateral trade goal this year, and Tran Tu, Vietnam’s trade attaché in Cambodia, said the two countries were on track to meet that target.
“I strongly believe the situation will be positive for the rest of the year,’’ Tran Tru said. “The trade volume is always on the rise, and we can soon reach the trade goal set by the two governments.”
Vietnam Trade Office data shows bilateral trade between Cambodia and Vietnam rose 42.58 per cent to $919.1 million during the first quarter, compared with $644.6 million during the corresponding period last year.
Imports from Vietnam dominated the relationship at about 78 per cent of bilateral trade, worth $717.6 million, data shows.
Cambodia’s main imports from Vietnam were iron, steel, plastic products and garments.
To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara [email protected]