As a country with shared borders and strong diplomatic ties, Vietnam emerged as Cambodia’s second-largest trading partner in the first month of 2024, with the exchange of goods between the two nations reaching over $670 million, according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

In January 2024, their trade volume hit $677.62 million, a 41.5% increase from $478.76 million in January 2023. Vietnam now ranks second, following China and ahead of the US, in Cambodia’s list of most significant trading partners.

Exports to Vietnam totalled $373.06 million for the month, a substantial rise of 116.6% from $172.23 million in the same period of 2022. Vietnamese exports to Cambodia slightly decreased by 0.6%, from $306.53 million to $304.57 million. 

The surge in exports resulted in Cambodia’s trade surplus expanding to $68.49 million for the month, from a deficit of $134.3 million in January 2023.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), told The Post on February 14 that enhanced diplomatic relations have accelerated trade, particularly in exports to Vietnam. 

He said that agricultural products form an important part of the exports, as during harvest seasons, numerous local and Vietnamese traders purchase crops from Cambodian farmers for processing in Vietnam.

He noted that trade between the two ASEAN neighbours is expected to continue growing, bolstered by agreements on cross-border trade flows. 

“The increase in the value of Cambodia’s exports reflects a growth in domestic production capacity. The current balance between exports and imports of Cambodian goods with all partner countries is closer, a departure from the past when import values greatly exceeded exports,” he explained.

“Vietnam is a vital market for Cambodian agricultural products,” he stressed.

Heng added that due to the extensive land and water borders shared by the two countries, the actual trade volume likely surpasses the official figures.

Cambodia’s primary exports to Vietnam include paddy rice, rubber, cashews, cassava, corn, bananas, mangoes, tobacco and natural resources. Imports from Vietnam comprise construction materials, machinery, fuel, electrical equipment, electronic components, agricultural fertilisers, spices, vegetables and fruits, as per the GDCE.

Chea Chandara, president of the Logistics and Supply Chain Business Association in Cambodia (LOSCBA), noted that the opening of more border crossings and streamlined procedures have facilitated the increased movement of goods and people. 

He said the two nations’ goods were increasingly complementary, with Vietnam importing essentials, construction materials and some machinery from Cambodia, while the Kingdom primarily exports agricultural products to Vietnam.

He predicted that the completion of the expressway from Phnom Penh to Bavet on the Vietnamese border will elevate trade and tourism relations to new heights. 

“Future trade relations between the two nations are set to strengthen further as both governments are investing in more infrastructure towards the border areas,” Chandara stated.

In 2023, trade between Cambodia and Vietnam amounted to $6.58 billion, a 7.3% increase from $5.613 billion year-on-year. Cambodian exports were valued at $2.97 billion, up by 37.1%, while imports from Vietnam were worth $3.61 billion, a decrease of 8.9%. 

The trade deficit for Cambodia stood at $639.62 million in 2023, a considerable reduction from the $1.8 billion in 2022, as per the GDCE.