Cambodian goods exports to Australia reached $118.735 million in the first four months of 2023, down nearly 6.05 per cent year-on-year from $126.380 million and down 9.37 per cent half-on-half (compared to July-October 2022) from $131.01 million, according to provisional Customs (GDCE) data compiled in “International Merchandise Trade Statistics” bulletins.
The volume of merchandise traded between the two countries in January-April 2023 was to the tune of $164.460 million, down 8.79 per cent year-on-year from $180.315 million and down 9.05 per cent half-on-half from $180.82 million.
At the same time, the Kingdom imported $45.725 million worth of goods from Australia, down 15.22 per cent year-on-year from $53.935 million and down 8.20 per cent half-on-half from $49.81 million.
Cambodia’s trade surplus – the amount by which a country’s exports exceed its imports – with the Group of 20 (G20) member nation for the four-month period stood at $73.010 million, expanding by 0.78 per cent year-on-year from $72.445 million but narrowing by 10.09 per cent half-on-half from $81.21 million.
Australia was Cambodia’s 17th biggest trading partner for the period, representing 1.085 per cent, 1.641 per cent and 0.577 per cent of the Kingdom’s international trade ($15.161 billion), exports ($7.234B) and imports ($7.927B), respectively, GDCE figures indicate.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng commented to The Post on May 24 that the thriving Australian economy offers a growing market for Cambodian goods, and there are numerous Australian investors already operating in the Kingdom.
The CCC, Cambodia’s apex trade body, earlier this month opened representative offices in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia that are expected to provide a solid boost to trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.
Heng attributed the declines in bilateral trade volume to fallout from the global economic crisis propelled by the armed Ukraine conflict as well as geopolitical tensions between major economic powers.
But with the new representative offices in Australia, “we have high expectations that when the global economic situation improves, bilateral trade, particularly Cambodia’s exports, will pick up”, he said.
According to Heng, high-potential Cambodian exports to Australia comprise textile-related items, bicycles and agricultural products, while notable imports include electronics, pharmaceuticals and vehicles.
Last month alone, the Cambodia-Australia merchandise trade volume came to $28.64 million, down 46.9 per cent from $53.93 million in April 2022 (year-on-year), down 17.0 per cent from $34.5 million in October 2022 (half-on-half), down 42.1 per cent from $49.49 million in January 2023 (quarter-on-quarter), and down 43.8 per cent from $50.94 million in March 2023 (month-on-month), according to GDCE statistics.
Cambodian exports reached $20.416 million, down 40.4 per cent year-on-year from $34.276 million, down 28.5 per cent half-on-half from $28.553 million, down 37.8 per cent quarter-on-quarter from $32.836 million, and down 45.33 per cent month-on-month from $37.346 million.
Imports, meanwhile, closed the month at $8.226 million, down 58.2 per cent year-on-year from $19.657 million, up 38 per cent half-on-half from $5.96 million, down 50.6 per cent quarter-on-quarter from $16.651 million, and down 39.5 per cent month-on-month from $13.598 million.
The Kingdom’s trade surplus with Australia in April came to $12.19 million, down 16.6 per cent year-on-year from $14.62 million, down 46.0 per cent half-on-half from $22.59 million, down 24.7 per cent quarter-on-quarter from $16.2 million, and down 48.7 per cent month-on-month from $23.75 million.
Australia was Cambodia’s 15th largest export destination and number-19 import source last month, representing 0.733 per cent, 1.108 per cent and 0.398 per cent of the Kingdom’s international trade ($3.909B), exports ($1.842B) and imports ($2.067B), respectively, GDCE numbers show.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, suggested the Kingdom ramp up production of commodities that are in high demand in the developed, high-income Oceanian country, given that both nations are members of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
He emphasised that the RCEP’s preferential tariff provisions will stimulate trade growth, adding that production diversification is crucial to attracting new customers.
Apparel, machinery, other goodies
According to the GDCE, Australia was Cambodia’s 19th largest trading partner in 2022, with the two-way merchandise trade totalling a record $523.612 million, up 60.88 per cent against $325.469 million in 2021.
Cambodia’s exports to and imports from Australia came in at $379.035 million and $144.577 million, respectively, up 84.6 per cent and up 20.31 per cent on a yearly basis, expanding the Kingdom’s trade surplus with the continental nation by 175.41 per cent, from $85.131 million in 2021 to $234.458 million in 2022.
No breakdown was immediately available of the particular items traded between Cambodia and Australia at any point during the 2022-2023 period.
However, Trading Economics statistics show that, out of Cambodia’s $205.3 million worth of goods exports to Australia in 2021, “pearls, precious stones, metals, coins” accounted for the lion’s share at $65.01 million, followed by “articles of apparel, knit or crocheted” ($53.96M), “articles of apparel, not knit or crocheted” ($20.39M), and “footwear, gaiters and the like” ($18.69M).
The next eight items were: “vehicles other than railway, tramway” ($11.70M), “cereal, flour, starch, milk preparations and products” ($10.03M), “cereals” ($6.65M), “articles of leather, animal gut, harness, travel goods” ($4.87M), “furniture, lighting signs, prefabricated buildings” ($3.96M), “wood and articles of wood, wood charcoal” ($2.71M), “miscellaneous articles of base metal” ($2.07M), and “other made textile articles, sets, worn clothing” ($1.92M).
For reference, the 12 categories respectively correspond to chapters 71, 61, 62, 64, 87, 19, 10, 42, 94, 44, 83 and 63 of the Harmonised System (HS) of Tariff Nomenclature.
Similarly, out of Cambodia’s $120.17 million worth of goods imports from Australia in 2021, “mineral fuels, oils, distillation products” accounted for the most at $68.08 million, followed by “milling products, malt, starches, inlin, wheat gluten” ($19.92M), “machinery, nuclear reactors, boilers” ($7.93M), and “inorganic chemicals, precious metal compound, isotope” ($4.51M).
The next eight items were: “cereals” ($2.95M), “meat and edible meat offal” ($2.90M), “dairy products, eggs, honey, edible products” ($2.11M), “electrical, electronic equipment” ($1.33M), “optical, photo, technical, medical apparatus” ($1.18M), “paper and paperboard, articles of pulp, paper and board” ($999.97K), “residues, wastes of food industry, animal fodder” ($964.39K), and “articles of iron or steel” ($771.62K).
These 12 categories respectively correspond to chapters 27, 11, 84, 28, 10, 02, 04, 85, 90, 48, 23 and 73 of the HS.
Trading Economics notes that its figures are sourced from the UN Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN COMTRADE).