A Change of Guard

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Sunday, 22 May 2016

Bilateral trade with Thailand declines

An exhibitor displays Thai-manufactured footwear at a trade fair in Phnom Penh earlier this year.
An exhibitor displays Thai-manufactured footwear at a trade fair in Phnom Penh earlier this year. Pha Lina

Bilateral trade with Thailand declines
Fri, 20 May 2016 ppp
Cheng Sokhorng

Bilateral trade between Thailand and Cambodia decreased by 13 per cent in the first three months of this year compared to the same period in 2015, according to statistics provided by the Royal Thai Embassy.

The value of Cambodian exports to Thailand reached $290 million by the end of March, an 11.02 per cent increase compared to the same time last year.

However, imports, valued at $1 billion, decreased by 17.8 per cent by the end of March.

Overall bilateral trade stood at $1.3 billion, a 13.2 per cent decrease, which allowed the trade imbalance between the two countries to drop by a considerable 20 per cent.

Soeng Sophary, spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce, said that while there has always been a trade imbalance between the two countries, a 20 per cent decline was a good sign that the gap would continue to narrow.

“Since most of Cambodia’s market depends on other countries markets,” she said, these numbers will “always fluctuate”.

But, she added that it could show that Cambodian products were gaining a competitive advantage, especially in light of the ASEAN Economic Community which is aimed at reducing trade barriers.

Mey Kalyan, senior adviser to the supreme national economic council, said it was too early to determine if this was a developing trend.

“It is hard to analyse since we are now within a more free market,” he said.

He added that an influx of Chinese imports as well as a rise of domestic products could explain the drop in bilateral trade between Cambodia and Thailand.

While he welcomed the news that Cambodian exports had increased, he added that the country should continue to strive to process its own products rather than relying on raw material exports to make up for the majority of exports.

“If Cambodia only relies on exporting raw materials, we lose out on potential profits from our resources,” he said.

Total trade between Cambodian and Thailand grew to $5.5 billion last year, up from $5.1 billion in 2014.

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