Bilateral trade between Cambodia and the UK reached $141.74 million in the first two months of this year, up by 14.3 per cent versus the $123.95 million logged in January-February 2021, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE).
Over the period, Cambodian exports to the UK amounted to $131.56 million, climbing by 14.6 per cent from $114.81 million, while imports clocked in at $10.18 million, rising by 11.4 per cent from $9.14 million, GDCE data indicate.
This means that Cambodia’s trade surplus with the UK in January-February widened nearly 15 per cent to almost $121.4 million, from nearly $105.7 million in the corresponding period last year.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on April 7 that more than 27 months after its divorce from the EU, the UK retains healthy diplomatic relations with Cambodia and is a growing buyer of Cambodian textiles, bicycles, agricultural products and other goods.
He suggested the UK as an alternative export market to the EU, commenting that many Cambodian goods are subject to increased tariffs as a result of the bloc’s partial withdrawal of the country’s “Everything But Arms” trade preferences – on August 12, 2020.
“An increased level of exports will bring a plethora of benefits to Cambodia, such as higher incomes and job creation,” Vanak said.
The GDCE reported that the UK was the eight largest buyer of Cambodian goods in January-February, after the US, Vietnam, China, Japan, Thailand, Canada and Germany.
On April 5, Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak stressed that improved diplomatic relations between Cambodia and the UK have led to steady growth in bilateral trade.
The minister was speaking at a meeting with UK ambassador to ASEAN, Jon Lambe, and his counterpart to Cambodia, Tina Redshaw, the commerce ministry said in a statement later that day.
Sorasak thanked London for providing preferential trade treatment to the least developed countries, which includes Cambodia.
“I am confident that the move towards living with Covid-19 in the ‘new normal’, combined with recent major trade achievements of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Ministry of Commerce, will be a new catalyst to strengthen bilateral trade, allowing it to expand rapidly.
“Both sides will continue to expand recently-established cooperative partnerships, in a bid to provide opportunities and generate fresh potential for trade, business and investment between the two countries going forward,” he said.
Lambe thanked the ministry and government, and commended them on their efforts and results in bolstering bilateral trade relations. He said that Britain pledges to scale up cooperation with Cambodia with intent to achieve the latter’s “priority economic deliverables” (PED), according to the statement.
According to the ministry, the bulk of Cambodian exports to the UK generally comprise footwear and apparel, bicycles, milled rice and agricultural products, while major imports include cars and machinery.
An earlier ministry report indicates that in 2021, bilateral trade between Cambodia and the UK was worth more than $785 million, down more than 10.48 per cent from the nearly $0.88 billion recorded a year prior.
Ministry spokesman Penn Sovicheat told The Post in January that the dip in trade was due to the Covid-19 crisis and disruption of UK markets, coupled with transportation barriers.