China, Vietnam and Thailand are Cambodia’s largest suppliers of goods, with imports of $10 billion in the first seven months of 2023, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE).

The sum represented 71.2 per cent of Cambodia’s total imports of $14 billion compared to 57.4 per cent in the corresponding period last year.

According to GDCE, imports from China amounted to over $6 billion, or 44.3 per cent of total imports, Vietnam $2 billion or 15 per cent, and while Thailand was $1.7 billion (11.9 per cent).

In addition, Cambodia imported goods from other countries such as Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, Taipei, South Korea, Denmark, Finland, and the US.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng told The Post that the goods Cambodia buys from the three countries are not only to meet domestic demand but form a large part of raw materials to supply to the production process, processing or production for export to international markets.

Once the global economy recovers, imports of goods from the three countries would recover, especially products that are processed into finished products for export.

“Given the cooperation between our government and the private sector, plus our geographical location, I believe that Cambodia’s trade with the three countries would continue to show positive signs.

“This is further expected, thanks to the bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements with China, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP),” he said.

Lim Heng added that China, Vietnam and Thailand are also markets that receive millions of dollars’ worth of goods from Cambodia each year.

In the first seven months of 2023, the three countries imported goods from Cambodia amounting to nearly $3 billion, which accounted for 22.1 per cent of Cambodia’s total exports of $13.5 billion.

Senior economist Ky Sereyvath, director-general of the Institute of China Studies at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said trade between Cambodia, China, Vietnam and Thailand has been good, especially with the four countries being members of the RCEP.

Despite global politics and economic uncertainties, trade with neighbouring countries or in the region is necessary and crucial.

Based on the geographical location and good relations between the government and the private sector, trade between Cambodia and China, Vietnam and Thailand will expand in the future,” he said.

In 2022, Cambodia imported more than $18 billion worth of goods from the three countries, accounting for 60.9 percent of Cambodia’s total imports of nearly $30 billion, according to GDCE.