Cambodia: Kingdom-Thailand trade goes up over 26%

Trade between Cambodia and Thailand went up by 26.46 percent in the first seven months of the year to $2.781 billion from $2.199 billion during the same period last year.

According to data from the General Department of Customs and Excise, from January to July this year, Cambodia exported $559 million of goods to Thailand, up 38.36 percent year on year while Thailand’s exports to Cambodia were worth $2.222 billion, up 23.85 percent from the same period in 2021.

Most of Cambodia’s exports to Thailand are agricultural products, while imports from Thailand to Cambodia include automobiles, fuel, construction materials, fertilizers, food products and cosmetics.

In terms of trade balance, Cambodia has a trade deficit with Thailand to the tune of $1.663 billion, or nearly four times greater than its exports.

According to the sixth meeting of the Joint Trade Committee (JTC), the two sides had set a bilateral trade target of $15 billion in 2020.

Hong Vannak, the economic researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, explained that Thailand and Cambodia could not reach the target by 2020 mainly because annual bilateral trade between Cambodia and China rose by over $10 billion.

“Due to competition, a country sometimes will have to make adjustments on the volume of bilateral trade, depending on demand from others. For example, Cambodia has particularly good relations with China and for increasing trade with China, it may have to reduce orders from Thailand,” he said.

Second, there are sometimes shortages in the supply of certain products from Thailand, forcing it to act as a broker and source the products directly from China or other partners and supply to the Cambodian market, Vannak added.

“Moreover, there is a free trade agreement between China and Cambodia which further enhances the bilateral trade flow mechanism between the two,” he pointed out.

“Cambodia also could not meet the demand from Thailand due to the small size of our economy and low production capacity. So, the government is trying to promote the manufacturing capacity of Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) to meet the rising demand,” Vannak explained.

Thailand is Cambodia’s fourth largest trading partner. Bilateral trade volume between the two countries in the first seven months of this year accounted for 22.2 percent of Cambodia’s total trade, while China ranked first with a trade volume of $6.97 billion. The US is the second largest trading partner with $5.89 billion worth of trade and Vietnam comes next with $3.76 billion.