Trade between Cambodia and Vietnam has witnessed steady positive growth, with Cambodian exports reaching nearly $2 billion in the first three quarters of 2023, up more than 30% from the same period the year prior, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

Cambodian exports to its eastern neighbour reached $2.04 billion in the first nine months, a surge of 30.7% compared to $1.56 billion during the same period in 2022. Vietnamese imports to Cambodia totalled $2.74 billion during the corresponding interval, down 11% from $3.07 billion.

From January to September, bilateral trade volume rose 3% to nearly $4.8 billion from $4.63 billion in the same period last year, while Cambodia’s deficit improved significantly, decreasing from $1.51 billion to $697.26 million.

September alone saw trade figures between the two countries reach $471.41 million, a 21.01% hike from September 2022. Cambodian exports stood at $185.26 million, soaring by 104.5%, whereas Vietnamese imports to Cambodia shrank by 4.3% to $286.15 million.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), attributed this uptrend to enhanced production capacity in Cambodia and improved border relations.

He said the country’s exports to Vietnam are expected to grow consistently, and that Vietnamese investors are currently diversifying their investments in the Kingdom across sectors including agriculture, industry, mineral resources, transportation and finance.

“Due to our shared land and water borders, trade volumes are often under-recorded. The growth in Cambodia’s production capacity strongly suggests rising exports in the future,” he told The Post on October 23, emphasising Vietnam’s position as Cambodia’s primary agricultural market.

He listed rice, rubber, cashew nuts, cassava, corn, bananas, mangoes, tobacco and natural resources as the country’s main exports to Vietnam. On the other hand, Vietnam primarily sends construction materials, machinery, fuel, electronic equipment, agricultural fertilisers, spices and fresh produce to Cambodia.

Chea Vuthy, deputy secretary-general of the Cambodian Investment Board (CIB) under the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), met with Nguyen Duc Phong, permanent deputy secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam and Vietnamese ambassador Nguyen Huy Tang on October 20.

He applauded the thriving cooperation and encouraged stronger partnerships to boost Vietnamese investments in the country.

“I urge the further expansion of investment cooperation to help improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Vietnamese investment in Cambodia,” he said.

Addressing challenges faced by Vietnamese investors, Vuthy assured that the CDC would resolve issues within its purview. On cross-sectoral issues, he suggested the Vietnamese side engage with the sectoral working groups at the upcoming Government-Private Sector Forum, scheduled for November.

For reference, 2022 saw a bilateral trade value of over $6 billion between the two nations, a 19.6% increase from 2021. Cambodian exports to Vietnam during that year were valued at over $2 billion, marking a 9.2% growth, while Vietnamese exports to Cambodia shot up by 26.2% to slightly under $4 billion, as per the GDCE.