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

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen warmly welcomed by president Biden

    Prime Minister Hun Sen, as ASEAN chair, and other ASEAN leaders were warmly welcomed by US president Joe Biden as the ASEAN-US summit May 12-13 kicked off today in Washington. “This evening, I welcomed ASEAN leaders to the White House for the first time in

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen invites US president to attend summit in Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen personally invited US President Joe Biden to attend the ASEAN-US Summit which is set to be held in Cambodia in November, as ASEAN and the US are expected to upgrade their strategic partnership to a ‘comprehensive strategic partnership’, according to Prime

  • Hun Sen: Stop Russia sanctions

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said sanctions against Russia as a result of its military offensive in Ukraine should be stopped as they have produced no tangible results, and predicted that a global food crisis would ensue in 2023 as a consequence. Speaking to an audience at

  • Pub Street on the cards for Battambang

    The Battambang Provincial Authority has announced that it is considering establishing a Pub Street in the area around the heritage buildings in Battambang town in a bid to attract more tourists. Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post that the establishment of a Pub