Cambodia's most significant trade partner for exports is the United States, while its primary source of imports is China.
Over the last five years, Cambodia's trade statistics released by the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) reveal a trade deficit of $7 billion, with the value of imports amounting to almost $30 billion in 2022, while the value of exports exceeding $22 billion.
Cambodia's trade figures over the last few years show a trade deficit, with imports being larger than exports. The US is the largest export market, accounting for 40 percent or $8.9 billion of Cambodia's total exports, with Vietnam and China being the second and third largest export destinations.
Cambodia imports the most goods from China, with 35 percent or $10 billion of total imports. Vietnam and Thailand follow closely as the second and third largest exporters, with exports over $3.6 billion and $3.8 billion worth of goods to Cambodia.
Penn Sovicheat, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce (MoC), acknowledged that achieving an exact balance between a country's exports and imports over a five-year period requires a lot of effort. He further noted that despite this challenge, MoC has been actively exploring new market opportunities to help bolster the Kingdom’s trade.
The majority of imports are raw materials, construction supplies, and automobiles, which tend to come with a higher price tag. In contrast, the export prices for goods from Cambodia are relatively inexpensive, resulting in a considerable gap between imports and exports.
“It's apparent that Cambodia’s imports more than its exports, which is inevitable given the need to purchase expensive goods that can't be locally produced. However, exports are also on the rise, thanks to Cambodia's expanding markets," Sovicheat said.
Despite Cambodia's exports being less expensive, the MoC is actively seeking to expand into new markets to increase opportunities. This expansion includes improving the quality and quantity of Cambodian exports in order to better compete in the global economy.
Cambodia's export market is expanding, and the country now boasts factories that produce and assemble high-end automobiles, which have helped to boost its export status. Rather than being a hindrance, this trend reflects the common nature of trade, he added.
The MoC is continuing to push for the diversification of Cambodia's export market and the exportation of more goods. This will help to further promote Cambodia's economic growth and bring more opportunities.
Sovicheat said as Cambodia looks towards the future with Cambodia's transition from Least Developed Country (LDC) status to Developing Country (LC) status on the horizon, it is essential to expand its capabilities by seeking out market opportunities, forming partnerships and alliances, cooperating with other nations, and joining regional and global economic communities.