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Cambodia-RCEP Trade Flourishes, Surpassing $30 Billion in 2023

by Surya Narayan
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The commerce exchange between Cambodia and the other 14 nations within the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has seen a significant upswing, with figures nearing the $30 billion mark for the year 2023, as reported by Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce. This remarkable growth highlights the burgeoning trade dynamics within the Asia-Pacific’s largest trading bloc.

In a detailed analysis, the ministry revealed that Cambodia’s exports to its RCEP counterparts experienced a robust growth, climbing to $8.172 billion—a notable leap of over 28%. Conversely, the import figures from these nations showed a downturn, totaling $21.286 billion, which marks a decline of more than 13% compared to the previous year.

The RCEP agreement, which officially took effect at the start of 2022, encompasses comprehensive trade accords among 15 countries, integrating the 10 ASEAN member states with five key trading partners: China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. This coalition forms the world’s largest trading bloc, representing approximately 30% of the global GDP, 28% of worldwide trade, and over 32% of global investment flows, with a combined GDP exceeding $26 trillion.

Pen Sovicheat, a spokesperson for the Ministry, highlighted the expansion of Cambodia’s export portfolio to RCEP member nations, noting a rise in shipments of key commodities such as garments, footwear, electronics, electricity, and agricultural products. Despite the overall positive trend, a decrease in exports was observed with four countries, including two ASEAN members, underlining the diverse trade interactions within the bloc.

Hong Vanak from the Royal Academy of Cambodia offered insights into the dip in imports, attributing it to a mix of global economic challenges, including the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Israel-Hamas conflict, which have contributed to rising market prices and global inflation.

However, Vanak also pointed out the significant increase in Cambodia’s export capacity and quality compliance, which has been pivotal during times of international economic and political uncertainties. He credited the surge in production and exports to various factors, including enhanced political and geopolitical stability, deeper integration into regional and global economies, and substantial reforms in the nation’s investment laws, all contributing to the escalating export figures. This trend underscores Cambodia’s growing role in the global supply chain and its adaptability to the evolving demands of international trade.

Source: Phnompenh Post

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