The value of exports from Cambodia to China in the first seven months of 2023 came in at $815 million, rising more than 16 per cent compared to the same period in 2022 with bilateral trade reaching nearly $7.1 billion.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, who was in Cambodia over the weekend, also expressed optimism over both nations’ diplomatic and trade ties.

According to the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE), exports to China between January and July 2023 grew 16.2 per cent to $814.7 million from $701.2 million in 2022. Imports from China amounted to $6.3 billion, up 0.1 per cent from $6.3 billion.

Bilateral trade volume expanded 1.8 per cent to around $7 billion from a year ago. Cambodia experienced a trade deficit of more than $5.5 billion, marginally lower than the same period in 2022.

China is Cambodia’s largest international trading partner, accounting for 25.6 per cent of the Kingdom’s international trade volume at $27.7 billion in the first seven months of 2023.

For the month of July, bilateral trade totalled $940.3 million, down by 4.6 per cent from $985.6 million in July 2022.

Of that, Cambodia’s exports was up 13.2 per cent to $101.5 million, while imports from China to the Kingdom fell 6.4 per cent to $838.78 million from $896 million.

Hong Vanak, an economist at the Institute of International Relations at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on July 13 that China has become Cambodia’s largest and most important trading partner.

It is not only a major buyer of goods from Cambodia but also the source of raw materials and ingredients to meet the needs of factories or processing enterprises which export to international markets.

Trade has grown because of the good relations between both governments and private sectors despite uncertainties in the global economy due to geopolitical conflicts between major countries.

Trade between the countries has also been strengthened by the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP).

“I am optimistic that the amount of trade between the two countries will increase further, especially Cambodia’s exports. Cambodian agricultural products are getting more and more support from the Chinese people,” he said.

He added that the visit by Wang Yi was also a good indication of both nations’ close political and trade cooperation growth.

However, Vanak urged farmers to work hard to promote and expand their cultivation and improve their quality to increase exports to China and other countries in the world.

At the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) on August 12, Wang Yi lauded Cambodia, noting its rapid growth and appreciating the achievements of the government, particularly the increase in foreign investment.

He said the cooperation would bring more positive results for Cambodia’s economic growth through the use of mechanisms to facilitate bilateral dialogue and study visits, which is in line with the Belt and Road Initiative.

CDC secretary-general Sok Chenda Sophea said the diplomatic ties established via Cambodia and China’s ironclad friendship are reflected through its strong economic ties with China which is a major trading partner, a large source of investment and tourism in Cambodia.

Both sides believe that Cambodia’s new investment law, the bilateral FTA and the promotion of a “diamond cooperation framework” would enhance diplomatic and trade relations between Cambodia and China in the future.

Data from the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia showed that in 2022, bilateral trade increased 4.4 percent to $11.7 billion from 2021.

Of that, Cambodia exported $1.2 billion worth of goods to China, down 17.9 per cent while Cambodia imported $10.4 billion, up 7.9 per cent.