Cambodia’s total exports increased 12.8 percent to $1.72 billion during the first three months of the year due to buoyant demand for garments and agricultural goods, according to figures released Tuesday by the Commerce Ministry.
Garments accounted for 88 percent of exports, with $1.53 billion in the first quarter this year, despite the government’s efforts to diversify into higher value industries.
Rice exports increased by 11 percent from 71,776 tons in 2013 to 81,550 this year, while rubber exports increased by 26.7 percent from 15,018 tons in the first quarter of 2013 to 19,041 tons in the same period in 2014. Despite the overall rise in commodity exports, Cambodia’s trade balance remained negative.
The value of imports, which included construction materials and petroleum, was $2.4 billion—$680 million more than the export value.
Independent economist Srey Chanthy said Cambodia could reduce its trade deficit by relying less on consumer imports and focusing on obtaining more capital investment.
“If we import more capital such as machinery for long-term production then it will be better for us,” he said.