The total value of goods imported from Thailand increased more than 14 percent in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year, according to data released Friday by the Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh.
The figures show that the total value of Thai exports to Cambodia increased 14.14 percent to about 1.55 billion from January 1 to April 30, up from 1.35 billion from the same period in 2013.
Refined fuels ($262.7 million), beverages ($78 million), sugar ($72.4 million) and cement ($62.9 million) remained among the top commodities imported from Thailand by Cambodia, while precious stones and jewelry ($217.1 million) surged 1,187 percent, replacing beauty products ($49.4 million) in the top five.
Though refined fuels remained the most imported product by value, its total value decreased 8 percent for the four-month period from $285.6 million, according to the figures.
The data also show that imports of cement increased 23.22 percent, from $51 million to $62.9 million, and the import of electronic circuit boards more than doubled, from $8.6 million to $18.6 million.
Thai officials and industry analysts on Friday credited the overall increase to Cambodia’s economic growth and rapidly expanding construction sector, which in the first quarter this year witnessed an almost double increase in approved projects.
“Economic growth in Cambodia and more income per capita of Cambodian people has led to more consumption and more export[s] of consumer products to Cambodia,” said Surachet Maneepong, a business support specialist at the Thai Embassy’s Office of Commercial Affairs.
“Relocation and expansion of business[es] including connectivity of supply chain [has] led to more export[s] of construction material, equipment and raw material from Thailand to Cambodia, and [there are] more construction projects [in Cambodia],” he said.
Mr. Maneepong said that while Thailand’s current political instability had affected trade between the two countries, it was most likely in the form of Thais having to look across the border for a market as locals tightened their belts.
“Overall, trade still increased. People of [Cambodia and Thailand] can distinguish between politics and business,” he said.
But Srey Chanthy, an independent economist, said the political instability in Thailand likely brought about the decreased value in refined fuels.
“Refined fuels are imported to Cambodia via land and sea, but I see that the protests in Thailand have negatively affected the import of this commodity [by land], while imports of fuel by sea have not been affected,” Mr. Chanthy said.