Cambodia exports reach $9.18 billion in five months

Cambodia’s exports in the first five months of 2023 were worth $9.18 billion, down 2.4 percent from $9.41 billion for the same period last year, according to a General Department of Customs and Excise report.

The country’s main exports were apparel, footwear, travel goods, bicycles, and agricultural products such as rice, rubber, cassava, bananas, and mangoes.

The top five export destinations for Cambodia during the period were the United States, Vietnam, China, Thailand, and Japan.

The US remained the Kingdom’s biggest market during the first five months of this year with exports worth $3.19 billion, a 14.3 percent decrease from $3.73 billion a year ago.

Exports to Vietnam rose 22 percent to $1.32 billion, from $1.08 billion, while exports to China also increased 13.3 percent to $588 million, the report pointed out.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said the industrial sector played an important role in economic development, enhancing people’s livelihood through job creation.

Garment, footwear, and travel goods factories are the country’s biggest income earner, he said during a visit to garment workers in Kandal province on Saturday.

After the Covid-19 crisis, the government has been trying to attract foreign investors in order to boost the national economy and create jobs, he said.

“The government is attracting foreign investors to the country to increase goods for export and provide employment opportunities for the people in the country,” the Prime Minister said.

Currently, there are nearly 1,400 garment factories across the country, employing some 850,000 workers. Around $3 billion is annually generated as wage labour to garment workers, he said.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, free trade agreement with China and Korea have played important roles in promoting Cambodia-made products and contributed to attracting new foreign investment, said Penn Sovicheat, spokesman at the Ministry of Commerce.

“Cambodia’s exports to the international market, particularly RCEP member states, have remarkably increased, making Cambodian products attractive in the long term,” he told Khmer Times.

“Cambodia’s trade growth will be expectedly higher this year and beyond,” he said.

RCEP, which came into effect in 2022, comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries including 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — and their five trading partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The Cambodia-China FTA came into force in January of 2022 and Cambodia-Korea FTA came into effect in October 2022.

Meanwhile, Cambodia reported a total import of $10,109 million during the period, a decrease of 22.6 percent from $13,057 million in the year before, the report said.

Key imported items included oil and gas, raw materials for garments, footwear and travel goods, vehicles, machinery, electronic appliances, and consuming products, among others, it added.