Cambodia-China Trade to Top $5 Billion by 2017

Bilateral trade between China and Cambodia will be worth more than $5 billion by 2017, up from $3.75 billion last year, according to estimates made public by the Ministry of Commerce on Monday.

Chhoun Dara, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, on Monday told a workshop on exporting products to China that the government had estimated bilateral trade, which was worth $3.75 billion last year, would reach $4.21 billion this year.

Bilateral trade is expected to be worth $4.31 billion in 2016, with trade between the two countries expected to hit the $5.01 billion mark by 2017. This equates to a one-third increase in trade value over the next three years.

“In the Cambodia-Chinese Economic Trade and Investment 5-year plan (2013-2017), according to Cambodia and China’s cordial cooperation plan, Cambodia has estimated the bilateral trade volume to be worth $4.21 billion for 2015, $4.31 billion for 2016 and $5.01 billion for 2017,” Mr. Dara said, according to a transcript of a speech he gave at the event.

The ministry’s predictions are “quite reasonable” and “achievable,” according to Stephen Higgins, managing partner of corporate consultancy firm Mekong Strategic Partners.

As China’s economy continues to expand, bilateral trade between Cambodia and China is likely to increase more quickly than trade between Cambodia and Western countries, Mr. Higgins added.

“I think China will keep growing quite quickly for a long time,” he said. “I expect [Cambodian] trade with China to keep pace with that growth.”

Srey Chanthy, an independent economist, said that construction and agriculture had helped to propel the increase in trade between the two countries.

“The main drivers of the growth for the trade between Cambodia and China over the last several years include the strong growth in construction sectors that need to import construction materials, especially from China, while Cambodia exports agricultural products like rice, corn, cassava and other products.”

Contrary to Mr. Higgins’ predictions, Mr. Chanthy said that a relative slowdown in China’s economic growth, while Cambodia’s economy continues to expand at a steady rate, “could result in lower trade between the two countries next year.”

“However, in 2017 if the economies of the two countries become better, the target could be reached because when the economies grow faster, the demand in households and businesses increase so both countries will need to import goods and services from each other,” he added.

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