Japan-Cambodia Association (JCA) president Fumiaki Takahashi has pledged during a meeting on Sept 11 with newly-appointed Minister of Commerce Cham Nimul to bring in more Japanese investors to Cambodia.

Takahashi’s JCA would play the role of the facilitator to the private sector in Japan while the Nimol’s ministry would ensure smooth expediency of legal procedures relating to bilateral trade, said Penn Sovicheat, secretary of state of the ministry, adding that both parties would ensure their cooperation remains strong in order to boost trade relations.

“The ministry has always considered the private sector an indispensable partner in promoting trade and investment. We know that Japan is one of Cambodia’s major trading partners, where we export goods worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

“Thus, through the commitment of the Japan-Cambodia Association, the private sector would feel more confident to invest [in business operations] in Cambodia and export to Japan and other destinations,” he told The Post.

According to Sovicheat, free trade agreements, which Cambodia is party to, as well as those under negotiation are an advantage or motivation for Japanese investors to expand their business or invest in production.

“I strongly hope that trade between the two countries will increase further in the future based on the commitment by the ministry and the private sector,” he said.

In the meantime, Cambodia and Japan are scheduled to hold the 14th Policy Consultation Meeting in November, which was postponed due to the pandemic.

Hong Vanak, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, shared that the decline in bilateral trade in the first few months of this year was due to the effects of the global economic crisis.

“Once the global political and economic situation recovers, trade between Cambodia and Japan would recover faster as both countries not only share strong diplomatic relations but are also members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP),” he said.

In the first seven months of 2023, the General Department of Customs and Excise showed that trade between Cambodia and Japan fell 9.9 per cent to around $1 billion from the same period in 2023.

Of this, exports from Cambodia amounted to $655 million, down 1.9 per cent, while imports from Japan dropped 21.3 per cent to $369 million.

As of March 31, 2023, Japan was the fourth largest investor in Cambodia with capital investments of 11.3 trillion riel (up 11.6 per cent from the same period in 2022) after China, Korea and Singapore, the National Bank of Cambodia said.

Japanese investments in Cambodia are mostly in the financial, construction, hotel and real estate sectors.