Cambodia imported over $280 million worth of iron and steel in the first nine months of 2023, marking a modest increase from the same period last year. This figure represents over 1% of the country’s total imports, as per the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

Between January and September, the International Commodity Trade Statistics report from the GDCE indicates the country imported items under HS code 72, including iron and steel, amounting to $280.53 million.

This represents a 3.2% rise from 2022’s $271.78 million and equates to 1.54% of Cambodia’s total imports of $18.22 billion during that period for code 72 products.

In September alone, the GDCE reported imports in the category valued at $26.15 million, a 3.2% decrease from the $27.02 million in September 2022.

Chiv Sivpheng, general manager of the Cambodia Constructors Association (CCA), told The Post that the country’s construction sector has shown some improvement this year. He attributed this to an uptick in projects approved by the Ministry of Land Management and Urban Planning and regional authorities.

The sector’s recovery has been gradual, he stated, mainly because many significant construction stakeholders, who are foreign investors, remain hesitant to invest due to the current global political and economic uncertainties.

He noted that a decline in new construction correlates with reduced imports of materials. He also mentioned that while several steel factories are operational in the country, a significant portion of the steel used in the construction industry is sourced from Vietnam, China and Thailand.

“The construction industry typically lags behind other sectors in recovery. Events like the Russia-Ukraine war and Middle East conflicts impact national economies, including our construction sector,” he explained.

“However, I’m optimistic about 2024 being an improvement on the current situation,” he added.

Huy Vanna, secretary-general of the Housing Development Association of Cambodia (HDAC), said the country’s construction sector has faced challenges since 2020, particularly with major projects driven by foreign investors.

He said the reduced number of large-scale projects has led to a diminished demand for steel compared to pre-2020 levels. He added that current construction primarily serves the local population’s needs and is funded by domestic firms.

“The construction sector’s health is closely tied to global economic trends. As the world economy expands, we anticipate a rise in iron and steel imports, correlating with the launch of more significant construction projects,” he said.

Separately, on September 20, the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) granted the final registration for Huale Steel (Cambodia) Co Ltd.

Located in the Sihanoukville Port Special Economic Zone (SPSEZ) in Preah Sihanouk province, the company boasts a $40 million capital investment and anticipates creating over 500 jobs. Historically, Banteay Meanchey and Kampong Speu have hosted steel factories.

For reference, the Kingdom imported iron and steel totaling $359.819 million in 2022, up 23.1% from $292.339 million the previous year. The country’s spending on iron and steel imports is about 1.2% of the $29.942 billion value of all imports in 2022.