Cambodia: Jan-Oct iron, steel imports up 23% to $245M

Cambodian “iron and steel” imports in the first 10 months of 2022 clocked in at $301.868 million, rising by 23.17 per cent year-on-year from $245.088 million, according to Customs.

This category of items, corresponding to Chapter 72 of the harmonised tariff schedule, accounted for 1.169 per cent of the $25.818 billion value of the Kingdom’s total imports over the 10 months, General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) statistics show.

Last month alone, the Kingdom imported $30.090 millions worth, up 60.8 per cent from $18.711 million in October 2021, and up 11.3 per cent from $27.025 million in September 2022.

The GDCE did not reveal any tonnage figures. To clarify, these imports do not include “articles of iron or steel”, which instead fall under Chapter 73 of the tariff schedule.

Housing Development Association of Cambodia (HDAC) secretary-general Huy Vanna told The Post that the large-building construction segment is slowly recovering from its Covid-19 induced slump, but still needs more time to return to its “strong” pre-2018 state.

“Regarding the current state of construction, most projects are small, such as local housing developments, while large foreign-invested buildings have made less progress,” he said, noting that most imported steel used in construction comes from Vietnam, China and Thailand.

In a recent interview with The Post, Cambodia Constructors Association general manager and secretary Chiv Sivpheng linked the uptick in imports to the general headway made on housing and other construction projects owned by Cambodians, as well as the on-year jumps in the prices that importers have been paying for iron and steel.

However, he said, construction activity has slowed at a number of sites due to the government’s tighter quality standards and technical regulations, while remaining relatively flat at larger projects – or those typically associated with foreign investors.

Regardless, he argued that the Cambodian construction sector would recover as the risks from Covid-19 wane and the global economic situation improves.

The construction ministry reported that it approved 2,811 construction projects in January-August 2022 with total registered investment of $1.662 billion – down by 90 developments and 56.7 per cent in terms of value over the same time last year.

Of these, 2,521 or 89.7 per cent were residential projects, down from 2,530 in the same eight-month period last year.