Cambodia: Exports to US up 20% but declined 18% to China in 2022

The US continued to be the biggest export destination of Cambodia in 2022 as the Kingdom shipped goods worth $8.9 billion to the country, 19.7 percent more compared to 2021. However, Cambodia’s exports to China with $1.2 billion last year showed a 17.9 percent decline for the same period.

While the US share in the total exports of Cambodia stood at 39.9 percent, China’s share recorded 5.5 percent in 2022, trade data released by Cambodia’s General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) recently showed.

In fact, the data showed that Vietnam was the second biggest export destination of Cambodia with $2.16 billion last year as the shipment of goods to the country showed a growth of 9.2 percent. China was the third biggest export destination for the Kingdom in 2022 while Japan was the fourth with $1.17 billion.

The data, however, showed that Cambodia imported mostly from China in 2022. The imports from the country surged by 7.9 percent compared to 2021 and stood at $10.4 billion. Imports from the US showed a decline of 7.1 percent over the same period and stood at $312 million, giving a big surplus in the bilateral trade for the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Ky Sereyvath, Senior Economist and Director General of the Institute of China Studies at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, yesterday, mooted the formation of an exclusive Cambodia-China trade hub to boost the trade between the two countries.

He told Khmer Times that the economic downturn of China resulted in the decline of its imports from Cambodia. “It will continue to decline if China can’t find solutions,” Sereyvath warned.

While giving a response to the latest trade data, Anthony Galliano, President of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), told Khmer Times that the continuing surge in Cambodian exports to the US only intensifies the criticality of the bilateral trade relationship between the two countries and the importance of embracing a trade relationship with America, the world’s largest economy by far.

“It is also encouraging that the US is bordering on becoming the second largest Foreign Direct Investor (FDI) in Cambodia, demonstrating even more formidable economic importance to the Kingdom.  As the US furthers its Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with Asean, the country’s trade and investment are set to accelerate in the region,” Anthony noted.

“Apart from the large trade surplus with the US, Cambodia also benefits from the Most Favoured Nation status, and previously, benefitted from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) which may be renewed,” he said.

The AmCham President added that Cambodia also benefits from its trade ties with China, as the country imported largely from China, a substantial consideration being raw materials to be reworked for exports to the US.

“The evolution of the economic relationship will hopefully see increased imports from the US to Cambodia in the future and further acceleration in the FDI inflow,” Anthony said.

According to the website of the US Embassy in Cambodia, the apparel, footwear, and travel goods sectors make up most of the US imports from Cambodia while top US exports to the Kingdom include vehicles, animal feed, and digital services.

Over the last 30 years, the US has provided $3 billion in foreign assistance to Cambodia including for health, education, food security, environment, and clearance of unexploded ordnance and landmines, it said.