Cambodia imported $1.43 billion worth of building materials in the first 10 months of 2021, an uptick of about 21 per cent from $1.18 billion in the same period a year earlier, despite Covid slowdown in the construction sector.
Cement imports, however, fell 33 per cent to $40 million in January-October, versus $59 million in the same period of 2020, the Ministry of Commerce reported.
On the plus side, the Kingdom bought steel and “other construction materials” to the tune of $326 million and $1.063 billion, respectively, marking a one per cent and 33 per cent rise from $321 million and $802 million, it said.
Cambodia Constructors Association general manager and secretary Chiv Sivpheng told The Post that the increase in imports indicated that the slowdown in the construction sector had not been so steep.
Although larger-scale projects may have hit a slump, especially those invested by foreigners, locally-invested projects were generally advancing at a faster pace, he said.
“Overall, construction activity in 2021 has not declined, which is why the value of construction material imports has increased. [This] may also be due to burgeoning demand for high-quality and luxurious equipment,” Sivpheng said.
He predicted that imports would grow further in 2022, noting that large investment projects are slowly beginning to resume, especially after the government moved to allow the resumption of socio-economic activities in mid-November.
Huy Vanna, secretary-general of advisory firm Housing Development Association of Cambodia (HDAC), recently said housing construction has not fallen, despite the brief Covid-induced shutdown of economic activity and production.
Locally-invested developments are popping up almost everywhere nationwide, he enthused, forecasting that “housing demand and construction activity will improve in 2022”.
Cambodian Cement Manufacturing Association secretary-general Puth Chandarith suggested that the dent in cement imports was a result of the stronger domestic production capacity.
The Kingdom churned out 8,469,782 tonnes of cement in 2021, up from 7.9 million tonnes a year earlier, he told The Post.
“The market and overall situation for domestically-produced cement have been positive, and production did not decline in 2021, despite some disruptions from the Covid-19 outbreak,” he said.
Locally-made cement is increasingly replacing imports, which predominantly come from Thailand, Vietnam and China, he underlined, noting that there currently five cement factories in Cambodia.
In 2021, a total of 4,303 new construction projects were approved nationwide, with cumulative registered capital investment of $5,333,798,525 – down by 31.21 per cent year-on-year – and total floor area of 12,998,072sqm, Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction data shows.