PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/Asia News Network): Cambodian goods exports to India reached US$91.526 million in the first four months of 2023, Customs (GDCE) reported, as King Norodom Sihamoni makes his maiden visit to the world’s most populous country, marking the culmination of celebrations of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations.
This figure represented a 64.2 per cent year-on-year surge from $55.746 million and 42.1 per cent half-on-half jump from $64.40 million, according to provisional Customs (GDCE) data compiled in “International Merchandise Trade Statistics” bulletins.
The volume of merchandise traded between the two countries in January-April 2023 was to the tune of $161.138 million, up 15.77 per cent year-on-year from $139.188 million and up 20.8 per cent half-on-half from $133.39 million.
At the same time, the kingdom imported $69.612 million worth of goods from India, down 16.6 per cent year-on-year from $83.442 million but up 0.9 per cent half-on-half from $68.99 million.
Cambodia recorded a trade surplus – the amount by which a country’s exports exceed its imports – of $21.914 million with the Group of 20 (G20) member nation for the four-month period, compared to deficits of $27.697 million in January-April 2022 and $4.59 million in July-October 2022.
India was Cambodia’s 18th biggest trading partner for the period, representing 1.063 per cent, 1.265 per cent and 0.878 per cent of the Kingdom’s international trade ($15.161 billion), exports ($7.234B) and imports ($7.927B), respectively, according to the GDCE.
Speaking to The Post on May 30, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng reflected on the magnitude of economic boost that ramping up the kingdom’s exports of high-potential commodities to India may provide, considering the vast size and population of the major South Asian power as well as the extensive cultural and historical ties that exist between the two nations.
Following a period of declines during the Covid-19 crisis, trade between the two countries is growing significantly, particularly Cambodian exports to India, he said.
“Although imports and exports between the two countries aren’t very large yet, I hope that through better government-to-government relations, the volume of bilateral trade will accelerate soon,” he said, suggesting regular commercial flights to drive trade and tourism between them.
Heng cited agricultural and textile-related commodities as high-potential items for sale to India, mentioning hi-tech, pharmaceutical and medical products as notable imports from the world’s fifth largest economy.
Meanwhile, King Norodom Sihamoni on May 29 arrived in New Delhi on his three-day state visit to India, as the two countries commemorate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
A press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the King will grant royal audiences with Indian President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during which bilateral and multilateral cooperation will be discussed.
Ministry of Commerce spokesman Penn Sovicheat told The Post that the two-way trade between Cambodia and India had been steadily growing prior to the pandemic, adding that the huge, populous Indian market has strong purchasing power as well as demand matching what Cambodia can offer.
The bulk of bilateral trade comprises agricultural and light-industry products, consumer goods and technological services, he said, adding that the kingdom is currently looking into the feasibility of establishing bilateral free trade agreements (FTA) with other jurisdictions such as India, the UK, US, Japan and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
Sovicheat explained that FTAs could improve trade among signatories, as well as entice foreign entities to invest in the production of commodities that, for example, are in great demand on the Indian market.