The Cambodian transportation sector had a rocky start this year, with various transportation and logistics associations having reported a decline in the sector’s performance during the first half.

Sin Chanthy, president of the Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA), confirmed a downturn in the sector since the first quarter.

“While some goods have seen a decline and others a surge, the transportation sector as a whole has unfortunately experienced a downturn,” he said on July 17.

Chanthy attributed this downward trend to enduring global crises and inflationary problems in several countries. “As we are already aware, the war in Ukraine has led to a decrease in orders and purchases.”

He further observed a decrease in orders and purchases from European and US markets due to inflationary woes leading to a drop in demand. It remains to be seen whether this downward trend will persist through the end of 2023.

“At present, we lack solid evidence to anticipate a resurgence in the transportation sector next semester. Based on my three-decade experience, the future of water, land and air transport is still uncertain. We’ll hold off on any predictions and revisit the situation in a month or two,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chea Chandara, president of the Logistics and Supply Chain Business Association in Cambodia (LOSCBA), affirmed that transport and logistics had dipped in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2022.

“The dip we’ve seen in 2023 can largely be attributed to various global crises such as war, inflation and Covid-19, particularly in Europe and Asia. However, this downturn is not steep, just a modest decrease,” he noted.

Chandara holds optimism that once the global economy stabilises, the transportation sector would experience growth. He believes government preparations for improved infrastructure will facilitate smoother goods transportation.

“We notice the government’s initiative in starting several transport sector projects. These include several upcoming projects such as the Phnom Penh-Bavet expressway, Phnom Penh-Siem Reap-Poipet expressway and the Funan Techo Canal, among others. These endeavours underscore the government’s focus on this sector,” he said.

Data from the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) indicated that in the first half of this year, Cambodia imported over $12 billion in main commodities, marking a near 23 per cent drop. Exports rose slightly at 0.8 per cent to over $11 billion, compared to the first half of 2022. Both the import decline and export increase point to a slump in transportation.