Trade with Vietnam fell by nearly 19pc in 2009
Despite a small recovery in volumes during the final quarter, bilateral trade suffered due to the global crisis, body reports
FALLOUT from the global economic crisis is to blame for an 18.7 percent slump in bilateral trade between the Kingdom and Vietnam, the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) said Tuesday.
If we still have a problem with Thailand, Vietnam will have more of a chance to win market share."
Official figures from the Vietnam Embassy in Phnom Penh, released to the Post on Tuesday, showed that trade between the neighbours dropped to US$1.332 billion in 2009, from $1.640 billion in 2008.
Cambodia’s main exports of unprocessed agricultural products plummeted 15.5 percent, to $186 million from $220 million.
Vietnam’s exports of garment and construction materials, homemade goods and processed foods were down more than 19 percent, to $1.146 billion from $1.420 billion in 2008, the figures showed.
Nguon Meng Tech, director general of the CCC, said the decline in bilateral trade was due to the global economic crisis hurting consumption.
“We recognise that ... the global crisis impacts people’s demand,” he said.
Lee Bien Cuong, commercial counsellor at the Vietnam Embassy, explained that the impact of the financial crisis was “severely felt” in the export of goods to supply the Kingdom’s garment and real-estate sectors, both of which were hit hard by the international downturn.
Vietnamese exports of garment materials tumbled by more than 10 percent and exports of construction materials dropped about 6 percent.
But Lee Bien Cuong said he remained hopeful that a recovery is due after trade levels began to recover from October. In December bilateral trade hit $160 million.
“If the figures remain positive, I believe that we will reach our plan of ... $2 billion in bilateral trade by the end of this year,” he said.
Nguon Meng Tech added that the ongoing diplomatic dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra may, in future, help boost Vietnam’s business presence in Cambodia.
“If [Cambodians] still have a problem with Thailand, Vietnam will have more of a chance to win market share in our country,” he said, adding that the effects of the dispute had not been felt in trade as yet because international borders have remained open.
Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Thailand declined an annualised 22.15 percent in 2009 to $1.658 billion from $2.130 billion, according to figures from the Thai Embassy’s Foreign Trade Promotion Office (FTPO) in Phnom Penh.
Cambodia’s exports to Thailand declined 13.84 percent to $77.73 million from $90.22 million in 2008, while imports from Thailand fell 22.52 percent to $1.58 billion from $2.04 billion over the same period.
Sok Sopheak, director general of the International Trade Department, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.