Cambodia-Vietnam trade sharply increased by 22 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 on a yearly basis, reaching a record high of $3.892 billion, despite tightened border controls over fears of spreading the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh.
Vietnamese National Assembly (NA) chairman Vuong Dinh Hue told his Cambodian counterpart Heng Samrin during online talks on June 3 that the cooperative relationship between the two countries has achieved “outstanding results”.
The two-way trade value grew at an average of 18 per cent per annum in 2010-2019, hitting $5.2 billion in 2019, exceeding a target set by leaders of both countries – topping $5.0 billion by 2020, he said.
“Bilateral trade extended its surge during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first quarter of 2021, the two-way trade value reached a new record high. Vietnam remains Cambodia’s third-largest foreign investor.
“On top of that, the two countries are focusing on security cooperation, particularly the exchange of experiences and regular training, so as to improve the defence capacity; ensure peaceful borders; build up and foster friendship, cooperation and development; and create favourable conditions for economic activities,” Hue said.
Samrin said that with the achievements made in bilateral relations in recent years, he believes that the traditional friendship and comprehensive cooperation between Cambodia and Vietnam will be maintained and strengthened by the NAs, governments and peoples of the two nations.
“Further efforts will raise relations to higher levels, practically benefitting the two peoples and positively contributing to peace, stability, cooperation and prosperity at the regional and global scale,” he said.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post that neighbouring countries are solid markets for Cambodian agricultural products.
Even with cross-border restrictions in play since last year, the two governments managed to ratchet up goods exchange, he pointed out.
According to Cambodian Ministry of Commerce statistics, the Kingdom’s exports to Vietnam in 2020 were worth $385.79 million, surging by 14.88 per cent from $335.82 million in 2019, and imports were $2.634 billion, down by 3.10 per cent from $2.718 billion.
“The rise in our exports to Vietnam reflects the commitment between the two governments to promote cross-border trade, with a particular focus on development for the people along the border.
“I’m inclined to say that neighbouring countries are the best export destinations given how easy it is to ship things there, especially our agricultural products such as rice, corn, rubber, legumes.
“And, although we export mostly raw materials there, things remain good for our farmers. If we didn’t have Thailand or Vietnam buying our agricultural products, we’d be in a predicament because we are lacking storage,” Heng said.
The Cambodian government is pushing for the construction of two border “model markets” in Kampot and Svay Rieng provinces along the shared frontier with Vietnam in a bid to fuel bilateral trade and ratchet up Cambodia’s exports.
This comes after Da Market, the first of this kind, was inaugurated on December 24, 2019, in Tbong Khmum province.
And according to Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak, Kampot’s “model market” should break ground by the end of the year near the Prek Chak International Border Checkpoint that links the coastal province to Vietnam’s Kien Giang province.