The Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has revealed that it is considering a proposal by a Hong Kong business delegation to open a representative office in the Chinese special administrative region (SAR) to serve as a trade and investment gateway connecting the city to regional markets and beyond.

The delegation last week met with the CCC, the Kingdom’s apex trade body, with the main goals of understanding the chamber’s roles at home and abroad, as well as exploring collaborative prospects to entice investors operating in Hong Kong to enter the Cambodian market. This is according to a CCC statement.

CCC director-general Nguon Meng Tech, who met with the delegation, affirmed to The Post on May 15 that the Hong Kong businesspeople had inquired about opening a representative office for the trade body in the territory.

He noted that this could be the next in the series of international CCC outposts opened since the first in Toronto, Canada in May 2022, followed by another in Sendai, Japan, and then two more in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia in that order.

“Having taken note of the representative offices we’ve opened abroad, the delegation came and asked us to represent Cambodia in Hong Kong, with the purpose of turning the Kingdom into an investment and business hub akin to the city,” Meng Tech said.

“They see a lot of potential in Cambodia – and they’re not looking at any other country,” he claimed.

“We welcome this initiative, seeing as Cambodia and Hong Kong have had good relations for a long time in terms of trade and investment, and the CCC’s presence in Hong Kong would be a marvellous step forward in those areas,” he added.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath agreed that Cambodia could benefit from a CCC office in the SAR, which he suggested may be a valuable source of information concerning the Kingdom’s economic situation and strengths, not only for Hong Kong investors but for large companies and businesspeople from all over the world.

Prospective investors will be “well aware of the high-potential sectors and government policies”, allowing them to make more informed decisions about whether or not to bet on the Kingdom, Sereyvath opined.

Meng Tech noted that CCC representative offices must be approved by the government before they are established, and affirmed his resolve to collaborate with the Ministry of Commerce on work towards the aforementioned Chinese outpost, should “the Hong Kong side” formally submit a proposal.

Meanwhile, provisional Customs (GDCE) figures show that the Cambodia-Hong Kong merchandise trade volume reached $125.516 million in the first four months of the year, down 66.4 per cent compared to the same time in 2022.

Cambodian exports to and imports from Hong Kong came in at $45.967 million and $79.549 million for the January-April period, respectively, down 20.2 per cent and down 74.8 per cent year-on-year.

The Kingdom registered a trade surplus – the amount by which a country’s exports exceed its imports – with the SAR to the tune of $19.487 million for the four-month period, versus a trade deficit of $440.760 million a year earlier.

Similarly, the bilateral merchandise trade in 2022 was valued at $946.333 million, down 1.3 per cent year-on-year, with Cambodian exports at $182.000 million (down 22.2%) and imports at $764.333 million (up 5.5%). The Kingdom’s trade deficit with Hong Kong grew by 18.6 per cent on an annual basis to $582.333 million last year.

No breakdown was immediately available of the specific items traded between Cambodia and Hong Kong for any interval during the 2022-2023 period.

However, Trading Economics statistics show that, out of Cambodia’s $233.81 million worth of goods exports to the SAR in 2021, “furskins and artificial fur, manufactures” accounted for the lion’s share at $69.09 million (versus $7.41M in 2020), followed by “electrical, electronic equipment” ($42.32M; vs $36.11M), “articles of leather, animal gut, harness, travel goods” ($39.87M; vs $20.91M), and “articles of apparel, knit or crocheted” ($36.68M; vs $35.42M).

The next eight items were: “articles of apparel, not knit or crocheted” ($14.75M; vs $13.94M in 2020), “cereals” ($8.79M; vs $19.13M), “machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers” ($8.12M; vs $9.03M), “footwear, gaiters and the like” ($7.09M; vs $8.32M), “clocks

and watches” ($1.09M; vs $378.85K), “salt, sulphur, earth, stone, plaster, lime and cement” ($708.24K; vs $145), “knitted or crocheted fabric” ($701.10K; vs $643.60K), and “iron and steel” ($664.04K; vs $95.49K).

For reference, the 12 categories respectively correspond to chapters 43, 85, 42, 61, 62, 10, 84, 64, 91, 25, 60 and 72 of the Harmonised System (HS) of Tariff Nomenclature.

Similarly, out of Cambodia’s $724.71 million worth of goods imports from Hong Kong in 2021, “pearls, precious stones, metals, coins” accounted for the most at $231.48 million (versus $10.66M in 2020), followed by “knitted or crocheted fabric” ($109.23M; vs $140.02M), “plastics” ($56.98M; vs $42.95M), and “special woven or tufted fabric, lace, tapestry” ($42.51M; vs $26.49M).

The next eight items were: “manmade staple fibres” ($42.22M; vs $36.14M), “miscellaneous manufactured articles” ($30.29M; vs $18.59M), “paper and paperboard, articles of pulp, paper and board” ($24.38M; vs $22.98M), “raw hides and skins (other than furskins) and leather” ($23.13M; vs $11.88M), “miscellaneous articles of base metal” ($21.61M; vs $11.38M), “aluminium” ($17.92M; vs $19.05M), “electrical, electronic equipment” ($17.33M; vs $9.08M), and “rubbers” ($14.38M; vs $11.71M).

These 12 categories respectively correspond to chapters 71, 60, 39, 58, 55, 96, 48, 41, 83, 76, 85 and 40 of the HS.

Trading Economics notes that its figures are sourced from the UN Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN COMTRADE).