January 26, 2022
PHNOM PENH – Bilateral trade between Cambodia and the UK reached more than $785 million in 2021, down by more than 10.48 per cent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Last year, the Kingdom’s exports to the UK clocked in at more than $731 million, falling in excess of 11.42 per cent over 2020, and the value of imports topped $53 million, up by over four per cent year-on-year, the figures show.
This means Cambodia’s trade surplus with the UK narrowed by more than 12 per cent to nearly $0.68 billion.
Ministry spokesman Pen Sovicheat told The Post on January 24 that the dip in trade was due to the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus and disruption of markets in the UK, coupled with transportation barriers.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, attributed the decline to a declining demand for non-essential commodities in Britain, which diverted most of its resources to fight Covid-19.
He also suggested that the ongoing Ukraine-Russia crisis may be detrimental to Cambodia-UK trade flows in the coming period.
He added that the UK also trades with other ASEAN countries that have similar trade profiles, lowering the volume of merchandise flowing to and from each nation.
“In order to attract large trading partners like the UK, Cambodia must strive to produce goods that meet their standards, as well as forge stronger cooperative ties with British businesspeople, making diplomatic relations better, too,” Vanak said.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng told The Post that since the UK left the EU, Cambodian has ill been able to benefit from preferential market access under Britain’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP).
He noted that the UK has been gathering feedback on potential conditions to be added or amended, to open more doors for beneficiary countries to capitalise on the scheme, including Cambodia.
He said the updated GSP “will bring us a lot of relief, as we are subject to a 20 per cent tax on the [EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trade scheme], so a large number of our goods can enter through the UK and proceed to be distributed to the EU”.
The ministry listed Cambodia’s main exports to the UK as footwear and apparel, bicycles, milled rice and other agricultural products; and major imports as automobiles and machinery.