Cambodia earned $1.8997 billion from the export of non-textile-based industrial products in the first half of this year, an increase of 49.9 per cent from $1.2672 billion in the same period of 2020, the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) reported.

The sound growth in the exports was a result of the implementation of the government’s policy on industrial diversification in Cambodia, said the GDCE, a department under the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

The GDCE listed some of the items as bicycles and related parts, electronic and wiring components, auto parts, decorative lamps and plank boards.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on July 19 that the export of the Kingdom’s non-textile-based merchandise has steadily increased since the outbreak of Covid-19.

This, Heng said, reflects, the progress of Cambodian production chains serving everything from light industry to modern heavy industry, which he asserted every developing country in the world is looking for.

He added that the growth in the exports was in line with Industry 4.0 and the Cambodia Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025, as well as the new investment law, which was recently approved by the Council of Ministers.

“Growth in non-textile-based exports is a good sign of national economic growth, as it is a key starting point for achieving a heavy industrial sector – which all developed countries need – and long-term sustainability,” he said.

According to Heng, some countries today do not want to accept investment in the garment sector, disregarding it as a light industry.

After all, investors can always relocate and hire less-skilled workers elsewhere.

Heng added: “For me, if Cambodia can get both [well-functioning light and heavy industries], it is better for both sectors to work well together to create jobs and provide national income.”

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said export diversification is necessary for the Kingdom to boost economic growth.

He suggested Cambodia harness the preferential treatment benefits provided by major global markets and increase the export potential of a variety of products, pointing out that garments, the linchpin of the Kingdom’s economy, faces a litany of challenges posed by Covid-19.

“Diversification of non-garment export products will help make the Cambodian market stronger and more targeted,” he said, adding that surges in shipments abroad would also help strengthen the capacity of Cambodia’s skilled labour.

Non-textile-based industrial products accounted for 26 per cent of Cambodian exports last year, up from 17.2 per cent in 2019, reported the finance ministry, listing milled rice, furniture, bicycles and electronic components as notable goods.