Cambodia imported a total of $1.492 billion worth of “rot’yon” -class automotive motor vehicles in 2022, up 23.6 per cent versus the $1.207 billion logged in 2021, as reported by the commerce ministry, fuelled by economic growth and consumer demand.
The “rot’yon” category includes cars, SUVs, vans, trucks, buses, lorries and similar vehicles designed for passenger or freight transport, but excludes motorcycles, auto-rickshaws and generally vehicles used for other specialised purposes.
However, the Ministry of Commerce report did not disclose the types and corresponding number of units imported.
By comparison, Customs reported imports in the “vehicles other than railway, tramway” – those under Chapter 87 in the Harmonised System (HS) of Tariff Nomenclature – at $2.375 billion for last year, up by 20.70 per cent over 2021.
“Rot’yon” and Chapter 87 items respectively accounted for 4.98 per cent and 7.93 per cent of the $29.942 billion in total imports for 2022 posted by the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng interpreted the uptick in vehicle imports as a sign of a post-Covid-19 recovery in economic activity coupled with a rise in household incomes, positing that demand was buoyed in part by improvements and expansions in road networks.
Perhaps more importantly, demand for transport vehicles was driven by a surge in agricultural production and exports, he commented to The Post on February 6.
“Even with a number of active vehicle assembly plants in Cambodia, I believe imports of all types will remain on the rise,” Heng said, adding that the uptick in imports have translated into additional revenues for state coffers.
Of note, the government on March 1, 2021 reduced import duties on a wide range of vehicles by between 10 and 20 percentage points, in a bid to bolster demand for overseas units and partially offset losses in customs revenue.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, remarked that the increase in the import of “rot’yon”-type vehicles signal a boom in economic activity, regardless of what proportion are for personal use, or transportation or tourism services.
Local vehicle assembly plants will sap considerable momentum from import growth going forward, he argued, highlighting the rising income levels, the growing ubiquity of automobiles in Phnom Penh homes, among other pertinent socio-economic trends.
The GDCE reported $2.6905 billion in revenues for last year – up 18.3 per cent from a year earlier and exceeding the 2022 target by 4.94 per cent – of which “vehicles and machinery” accounted for a 46.2 per cent share.
Meanwhile, the General Department of Taxation reported tax revenues from vehicles and other means of transportation at 422.1689 billion riel, or about $104.24 million, which is equivalent to 130 per cent of the corresponding 2022 target.