Trade with Hong Kong takes turn for the worst
After falling over 18 percent in October, trade with Hong Kong plunged 24 percent in November, down from ’08 by over $100m
BILATERAL trade between Cambodia and Hong Kong slid even further in November to an annualised 24.4 percent, according to figures from city’s Trade Development Council (HKTDC) released Wednesday.
The statistics mark a significant slump when compared to the year-on-year data for October – a month which saw trade fall from US$49 million in 2008 to $40 million in 2009, a dive of 18.3 percent.
In November last year, Hong Kong and Cambodia recorded bilateral trade worth $34 million, compared to $45 million in 2008.
The new data mark the latest fall in what was a bleak first 11 months in 2009 for economic activity. Between January and November, two-way trade between the pair plummeted to $437 million from $575 million in 2008.
But officials within the HKTDC and the government remained positive about the future of Cambodia’s bilateral trade with the Chinese territory, a major trading partner for the Kingdom.
HKTDC Director Tina Phan said Wednesday that although trade between Hong Kong and Cambodia had been affected by the global economic slowdown last year – which led to a reduction in garment orders from the European Union and the United States – domestic companies can still use Hong Kong as a platform to export products to other countries.
“Everyone is upbeat about the recovery signs for trade in 2010,” said Tina. “However, it will take some time for investment to return to Cambodia.”
Ok Boung, secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce, agreed that there had been signs of a recovery in trade with Cambodia.
In the first 11 months of 2009, Cambodia’s exports to Hong Kong increased 32.5 percent to $12 million from $9 million the previous year. In the same period, Hong Kong’s total exports to Cambodia dipped 24.8 percent to $425 million from $565 million.
“We have seen some improvements recently,” Ok Boung said. “I think that in the following year, our trade with foreign countries will be better compared to last year. The new China-ASEAN Free Trade Area will open more access for trade exchange.”
Such trade could bolster Cambodian imports of Hong Kong goods, which were hit hard in the first 11 months of 2009 compared to 2008.
Imports of fabrics and woven material were down 48.8 percent to $3 million – yet another indication of a continuing downturn in the garment sector – telecommunications equipment and parts dropped 17.8 percent to $46 million, and electrical machinery and apparatus decreased 26.7 percent.
On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s financial secretary John Tsang warned that the territory’s economy could “still be rather bumpy going forward” unless a turnaround in the United States took hold. Like Cambodia, Hong Kong relies on consumption from the world’s largest economy.
Tsang said he believes the US may suffer a “double-dip” recession when the American government’s economic stimulus measures wind up.
Last month, the city’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang added that Hong Kong’s economy could be in for a further downturn by mid-2010.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AFP