Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Vietnam trade surges 22% as deficit rockets 96% in Jan-Sep

Vietnam trade surges 22% as deficit rockets 96% in Jan-Sep

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A woman walks her motorcycle at the Bavet border with Vietnam. Heng Chivoan

Vietnam trade surges 22% as deficit rockets 96% in Jan-Sep

The bilateral commodity trade between Cambodia and Vietnam stood at $4.634 billion in the first nine months of 2022, up 22.02 per cent from the same time last year, with imports into the Kingdom accounting for 66.33 per cent of the total, up 6.17 percentage points year-on-year, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE).

In the January-September period, Cambodian commodity exports to Vietnam amounted to $1.560 billion, up 3.13 per cent year-on-year, and imports $3.074 billion, up 34.53 per cent. The Kingdom’s trade deficit with its neighbour for the nine-month period expanded by 96.05 per cent on a yearly basis to $1.514 billion.

Vietnam was the second largest exporter to Cambodia for the period, after mainland China at $7.901 billion, and followed by Singapore ($2.979 billion), Thailand ($2.972 billion) and Switzerland ($1.407 billion).

It was also the second biggest buyer of Cambodian commodities, after the US at $7.047 billion, with Japan ($897.695 million), mainland China ($895.463 million), Canada ($874.861 million), Germany ($828.872 million), the UK ($704.029 million) and Thailand ($655.050 million) rounding out the top eight.

In September alone, the Cambodian-Vietnamese commodity trade came to $389.55 million, up 15.70 per cent year-on-year but down 18.55 per cent month-on-month, while the Kingdom’s exports were to the tune of $90.58 million, down 5.44 per cent year-on-year and down 36.6 per cent month-on-month.

Nguon Meng Tech, director-general of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, the Kingdom’s apex trade body, commented that goods exchange between the two countries has largely remained regular due to their shared border, even during the Covid-19 crisis, and seemingly suggested that the GDCE statistics could be lower than the actual figures as a result.

He told The Post on October 31 that market actors on either side of the border tend to team up, especially when it comes to the exchange of agricultural products such as paddy rice, cashew nuts, rubber, corn and cassava, as well as animal and aquaculture products.

“The two countries mutually import and export natural resources and unprocessed products. Economic growth and good cooperation between the governments and peoples of the two countries will boost trade volumes going forward,” he said.

In a previous interview with The Post, CCC vice-president Lim Heng remarked that Cambodia’s main goods exports to Vietnam comprise agricultural products, while imports include steel and construction materials, oils, fruits and vegetables, fertilisers and agricultural machinery.

Cumulative foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into Cambodia between August 5, 1994 and December 31, 2021 amounted to 168.8 trillion riel ($41.0 billion), rising by 11.2 per cent from the nearly 152 trillion riel recorded by end-2020, according to the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC).

Vietnam was the fourth largest investor in the Kingdom with $2.5 billion, or a 6.1 per cent market share, after China ($18.0 billion; 43.9 per cent), South Korea ($4.9 billion; 11.9 per cent) and Singapore ($2.7 billion; 6.5 per cent).

For reference, August 5, 1994 was the day when Royal Decree No 03/NS/94 promulgated the old Law on Investment and established the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the government’s highest decision-making body for large-scale investments.

In 2021, Cambodian-Vietnamese commodity trade clocked in at $5.127 billion, up 31.24 per cent over 2020. The Kingdom’s exports were worth $1.985 billion, up 58.56 per cent, and imports $3.144 billion, up 18.37 per cent, according to the GDCE. The trade deficit with Vietnam narrowed 17.48 per cent last year to $1.158 billion.


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