CAMBODIA's bilateral trade with Vietnam decreased an annualised 21.87 percent from US$951 million to $743 million in the first seven months of this year, official Vietnamese figures showed Wednesday, as the Kingdom maintained a large but shrinking trade deficit with its neighbour.
Le Bien Cuong, the commercial counsellor at the Vietnamese Embassy in Phnom Penh, told the Post that Vietnam's year-on-year exports to Cambodia had dropped 21.85 percent this year up to the end of July, from US$810 million to $633 million.
"Cambodia's exports to Vietnam also dramatically went down from $141 million to $110 million," he said, which represented a decline of 22 percent during the same period.
The figures showed that Cambodia's large trade deficit with Vietnam declined 21.82 percent during the first seven months from $669 million to $523 million as a result of the overall drop in trade.
Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said at the opening ceremony of a Vietnamese trade fair Wednesday morning in Phnom Penh that the two countries had enjoyed rising trade recently, "most notably in the past three years".
Trade between Cambodia and Vietnam was $935 million in 2006, rising to $1.19 billion in 2007 and up to a record $1.64 billion last year even as the full onset of the global economic crisis began to take hold in the two countries.
The minister pointed to the forthcoming establishment of new international border gates between both countries - six are planned for the end of this year - as a potential spur for bilateral trade.
"I would like all traders in our two countries to jointly cooperate and try to understand these golden opportunities, and seize them for the sake of their own businesses," Cham Prasidh said.
He acknowledged that the wide trade gap between the two countries was a result of the nature of Cambodian trade, which is mostly in raw materials, whereas its neighbour exported back finished products. He remained optimistic about trade prospects between the two ASEAN neighbours.
"We expect that if there had been no [economic] crisis, we would have reached more than $2 billion [in bilateral trade] this year and would not have to wait until 2010," he said.
The five-day trade fair started Wednesday at the Mondial Centre with 150 companies filling 200 sales stalls offering what have been termed "high-quality" products.
"The trade fair will ... give opportunities to traders of both countries to have a chance to seek business partners to boost bilateral trade during the crisis," said Nguyen Cam Tu, Vietnam's deputy minister of industry and trade, who attended the event Wednesday.