The US emerged as the leading buyer of Cambodian exports in the first month of 2024, with purchases nearing $630 million, approximately a third of the country’s total exports to the global market, as reported by the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

In January, the country’s exports to the US amounted to $626.83 million, marking an 11.4% increase from $562.45 million in January 2023 and representing 31.9% of the country’s overall export value, which totalled approximately $1.967 billion.

Imports from the US were valued at $17.25 million for the month, a decrease of 8% from January 2023. Total trade volume between the two nations reached $644.08 million, up by 10.8%.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), told The Post on February 26 that easing in the political atmosphere and global economic growth significantly boosted the country's early 2024 exports, especially to key markets such as the US, China, Vietnam and Japan. 

He highlighted that the US, being the Kingdom's largest export market, primarily buys clothing, footwear, bags and some agricultural products. 

Heng also noted the role of the US' Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) agreement in granting preferential tariffs to Cambodian goods, aiding their export to the US.

"The improvement in diplomatic relations and the diversification of Cambodian goods have played a crucial role in the ongoing increase in trade volume between the two nations, particularly in exports from our country. We anticipate this growth trend to persist for the near future," he stated.

According to the GDCE, Cambodia primarily exports items such as clothes, shoes, travel bags, solar panels, bicycles and agricultural products to the US. Imports from the the world’s largest economy include cars, machinery, electronics and medical equipment.

During a bilateral meeting in September 2023 between US ambassador to Cambodia W Patrick Murphy and Minister of Commerce Cham Nimul, the Cambodian side requested the US to encourage its companies to increase orders from the Kingdom and to invest more, thereby enhancing trade and economic growth.

At the US-Cambodia Business Forum's opening ceremony in New York the same month, Prime Minister Hun Manet stated that the strong bilateral cooperation was mutually beneficial. 

The premier noted the Kingdom's strategic location and its manufacturing sector, characterised by an affordable, abundant and skilled workforce. 

Manet said this has led to lower prices for Cambodian-made goods in the US market, benefiting exports.

In an effort to attract American investors to Cambodia, the prime minister emphasised the opportunity for US investors and businesspeople to explore the nation’s potential. 

"One eyewitness is better than one hundred hearsays," he stated, encouraging investors to learn more about Cambodia. 

He assured that the government would continue to provide strong support for cooperation and business expansion opportunities. 

Manet committed to addressing both longstanding and emerging intellectual rights challenges to accelerate the development of the private sector, positioning it as a key partner of the government.

According to the GDCE, trade volume between the two nations totalled $9.15 billion in 2023, marking a 1.4% decrease from the previous year.

Cambodian exports to the US were valued at $8.9 billion, a slight decline of 0.8%, while imports amounted to $257.18 million, showing a more significant decrease of 17.7%.

Cambodia's trade surplus with the US expanded to $8.64 billion in 2023, a marginal increase from the $8.65 billion recorded in the same period of 2022. 

The US currently ranks as the Kingdom’s second-largest international trading partner, accounting for 19.55% of the country’s total international trade, which stood at $46.83 billion in 2023, as per the GDCE.