Cambodian exports grew by more than 19 percent in 2017, reaching $9.55 billion in value, according to the latest report from the Ministry of Commerce.
Compared with last year, the total value of Cambodian exports increased by more than $1.5 billion.
Speaking at his ministry’s annual cabinet meeting yesterday, Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak said they have been hard at work to maintain and ensure current export markets and to expand to new ones, particularly by encouraging entrepreneurs to invest in the manufacturing of non-traditional products.
His ministry is focusing on bilateral and multilateral trade agreements within the region and beyond to diversify the export market, he added.
“We’ve sought new markets in South America and the Eurasian Economic Union, which hold great potential for Cambodia,” Mr Sorasak said.
The Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is comprised of four former Soviet states – Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, plus Russia. Seeking closer economic ties with these countries, Cambodia held its first business forum with the EAEU in Phnom Penh earlier this month.
Lim Heng, the vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, commended the country’s strong economic performance and expanding trade connections, but said more work is needed to make Cambodia truly competitive in the international marketplace.
“Most of our exports continue to be in the garment and agricultural sectors. We expect export numbers will continue to grow as the economy continues to expand,” he said. “However, we have to strengthen ourselves to compete with neighbouring countries and attract more investment into the country.”
According to the report, exports of products manufactured in local special economic zones (SEZs) increased by 12 percent in 2017. They were valued at $1.06 billion last year, but this year were worth $1.18 billion.
Van Sou Ieng, the President of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC), said Cambodian SEZs are becoming increasing popular among local and international manufacturers.
“They are attracting increasing amounts of investment from overseas,” he said.
Most products manufactured at local SEZs are bicycles, clothing items or shoes, which are sent primarily to the US, Canada and the European Union.