Cambodia Q1 exports to RCEP countries up 16%

Cambodia exported $2.89 billion worth of goods to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) countries in the first quarter of this year, up 16 percent from the same period last year, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce.

Cambodia’s top three export destinations in the RCEP were Vietnam, Thailand, and China, with shipments worth $1.25 billion, $958 million, and $328 million, respectively.

China is Cambodia’s largest source of imported goods, with a total value of $2.53 billion. Vietnam and Thailand follow closely, with imports of $957 million and $440 million, respectively.

The RCEP free trade agreement entered into force on January 1, 2022.

The regional trade pact 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.

Lim Heng, vice president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said the mega trade pact has boosted Cambodia’s exports, attracted new investment, and contributed to the country’s economic development.

Cambodia’s exports and imports to RCEP countries have increased due to the trade preferences under the mega-regional trade pact, said Penn Sovicheat, spokesman at the Ministry of Commerce, yesterday.

“With almost zero trade tariffs, exporters have been able to take advantage of the trade deal, resulting in increased exports and imports from Cambodia,” Sovicheat said.

Cambodia’s trade with RCEP countries made up 19 percent of the country’s total trade during the period.

Heng said that the RCEP has the potential to attract new investment into Cambodia to produce goods and services for export, as the RCEP market is huge.

“The agreement has not only increased exports of goods to RCEP countries, but it has also attracted foreign investment to produce goods and services for export to the regional market,” Heng told Khmer Times last week.

The mega-regional pact will eliminate as much as 90 percent of the tariffs on goods traded among its signatories over the next 20 years.

Being the world’s largest trade bloc, the RCEP trade deal has a combined GDP of $26.2 trillion, representing around 30 percent of the global GDP, 28 percent of global trade, and 32.5 percent of global investment.

Cambodia’s exports to RCEP countries reached $6.34 billion in 2022, a year-on-year increase of seven percent, a Ministry of Commerce report showed.

RCEP accounted for almost 60 percent of Cambodia’s international trade of $52 billion in 2022.