Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Covid-19 fails to crack construction imports



Covid-19 fails to crack construction imports

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia imported $565.91 million worth of building materials in the first half of this year. Heng Chivoan

Covid-19 fails to crack construction imports

The construction and real estate sectors in the Kingdom by and large dodged the worst of the sweeping Covid-19 crisis that ravaged the garments, textile and tourism sectors, Cambodia Constructors Association general manager and secretary Chiv Sivpheng said on Wednesday.

He told The Post that construction activity continues at a modest rate and imports performed well in the first half of this year, but noted that the pandemic had drained momentum from the projects, particularly foreign-owned ones.

Cambodia imported $565.91 million worth of building materials in the first half of this year, while arrivals were in excess of $1.50655 billion for the whole year 2019, data from the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s General Department of Customs and Excise show.

Broken down by category, the Kingdom imported 217,151 tonnes of steel worth $140.8 million, 681,817 tonnes of cement worth $43.27 million and 672,785 tonnes of “construction equipment” worth $381.84 million.

For the whole year 2019, it imported 722,621 tonnes of steel worth $477.19 million, 1.97 million tonnes of cement worth $129 million and 1.7 million tonnes of “construction equipment” worth $900.51 million.

Sivpheng attributed what he called “disheartening figures when compared to 2019” to hurdles for investors stemming from Covid-19 travel restrictions and a surge in domestic production capacity.

He said: “Covid-19 has kept investors and construction technicians from returning to Cambodia, slowing down construction activity somewhat in the first half. Additionally, the number of factories contributing to domestic supply is on the rise.”

As the Covid-19 situation ebbs and flows, the construction sector is unquestionably regaining traction, he said, citing a year-on-year increase in the number and the value of construction projects approved by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction in the first half of this year.

“I am unreservedly confident that the Cambodian construction sector will make a full recovery by the end of this year,” Sivpheng said.

The ministry reported that it approved more than $3.84 billion in new projects in the construction sector during the first half of this year, climbing 13.26 per cent on a yearly basis.

Huy Vanna, secretary-general of advisory firm Housing Development Association of Cambodia, cited as the main culprit behind the slump experienced across the construction sector’s segments, most notably condominiums and larger projects.

“Construction is still ongoing. It’s just that for every 100 steps it would have taken in the pre-Covid-19 era, it is taking 50 for the time being, waiting out the market situation,” he said.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng opined that travel and freight transport restrictions were the number one driver of lacklustre first-half building material imports and delays in construction activity.

“Economic activity in all sectors is on a steady track to recovery and I know that strong momentum will return soon,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants