Trade between Cambodia and the UK totalled more than $800 million in the first 11 months of 2023, a decrease of over 11% compared to the same period last year. Exports to the UK reached nearly $730 million, as per the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

According to the authority, from January to November 2023, bilateral trade value stood at $800.82 million, marking an 11.3% decline from $902.6 million in the corresponding period of 2022. 

Exports to the UK fell by 11.6% to $727.04 million, while imports from the UK decreased by 7.7% to $73.78 million, year-on-year. 

Cambodia’s trade surplus grew to $653.26 million during the interval. 

The UK ranks as Cambodia’s 10th-largest trading partner, after China, the US, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Germany, Singapore and Canada.

Hong Vanak, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, commented on December 20 that the trade volume reduction is attributable to sluggish global economic growth, particularly recent challenges including the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas conflicts. 

He anticipates an improvement in 2024. 

Vanak noted that the dip in UK imports could be due to the country’s increased domestic production and the possibility of sourcing certain products from neighbouring countries.

“Although exports and imports between the two sides are simultaneously declining, I remain optimistic about a recovery once the global political situation stabilises,” he said.

“The UK continues to be a vital market for Cambodia because exports there benefit from special tariff conditions, and through the UK market, Cambodia can also export goods to EU member states,” he added. 

Vanak said that post-Brexit, the UK announced the continuation of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) with Cambodia, a voluntary measure giving advantageous tariffs to the country.

Exports to the UK mainly include clothing, footwear, bags, bicycles and agricultural products, while UK exports to Cambodia comprise automobiles, machinery, electrical appliances and electronics, as per the GDCE.

Ly Khun Thai, president of the Cambodian Footwear Association (CFA), noted that the global economic downturn, fuelled by geopolitical conflicts and wars, has hindered international trade across various sectors. 

He said this has affected the country’s textile exports, including footwear and related articles, which had been consistently positive for many years.

“This downturn occurs during a period of weak global economic growth, leading consumers to reduce expenditure on non-essential items,” he explained. 

Nevertheless, he anticipates a recovery in the country’s exports, including footwear products.

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and the UK reached nearly $977.4 million in 2022, a 23.98% increase from $788.65 million the previous year. Cambodian exports accounted for $886.42 million, up 21.1%, while imports from the UK stood at $91.02 million, a 60.2% increase, as per the GDCE.