Located on the Indochina peninsula in southeastern Asia, the Kingdom of Cambodia shipped an estimated US$19 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a 177.4% increase since 2014 and a 5.9% uptick from 2017 to 2018.
Given Cambodia’s population of 16.4 million people, its total $19 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $1,200 for every resident in the southeastern Asian country.
The latest available data from 2016 shows that 81.5% of products exported from Cambodia were bought by importers in: United States (21.3% of the global total), United Kingdom (9.5%), Germany (9%), Japan (8.2%), Canada (6.5%), China (6.1%), Thailand (4.2%), Spain (4%), Belgium (3.9%), France (3.6%), Netherlands (3%) and Vietnam (2.3%).
In macroeconomic terms, Cambodia’s total exported goods represent 27% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($70.5 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 27% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2018 compares to 37.7% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Cambodia’s total economic performance. And while this article focuses on exported goods, it is interesting to note that Cambodia also provided $5.5 billion worth of exports-related services to global customers for an additional 7.7% of GDP in PPP. These metrics include a significant amount of re-exporting activity.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Cambodia’s unemployment rate was an estimated 0.1% in 2018, according to Trading Economics.
Cambodia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Cambodian global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Cambodia.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$8.4 billion (44.4% of total exports)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $3.8 billion (20.1%)
- Footwear: $2 billion (10.6%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $862.9 million (4.5%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $514.1 million (2.7%)
- Vehicles: $471.2 million (2.5%)
- Cereals: $403.6 million (2.1%)
- Furskins, artificial fur: $282.8 million (1.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $241.7 million (1.3%)
- Vegetables: $218.3 million (1.1%)
Cambodia’s top 10 exports are concentrated, accounting for 90.8% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Leather and animal gut articles were the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 93% since 2017.
In second place for improving export sales was plastics and plastic articles via a 49.4% improvement.
led by rice and corn, Cambodia’s shipments of cereals posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 16%.
The leading decliner among the top 10 Cambodia export categories was vegetables via a -64.1% drop year over year.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers represent Cambodia’s most valuable exported products at 12.3% of the country’s total. In second place was knitted or crocheted women’s clothing (8.6%) trailed by unknitted and non-crocheted women’s clothing (7.8%), knitted or crocheted t-shirts and vests (6%), unknitted and non-crocheted men’s suits and trousers (4.8%), cases, handbags and wallets (4.4%), leather footwear (4.2%) then textile footwear (3.5%).
The following types of Cambodian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$8.2 billion (Up by 10.6% since 2017)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $3.7 billion (Up by 12.6%)
- Footwear: $1.9 billion (Up by 13.5%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $825.3 million (Up by 98.8%)
- Cereals: $394.1 million (Up by 18.9%)
- Vegetables: $208.7 million (Down by -65.4%)
- Copper: $154.2 million (Up by 725.2%)
- Wood: $42.1 million (Down by -82.5%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $31 million (Reversing a -$3.2 million deficit)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $28.9 million (Down by -4.6%)
Cambodia has highly positive net exports in the international trade of apparel. In turn, these cashflows indicate Cambodia’s strong competitive advantages under the clothing and accessories product categories.
Overall, Cambodia experienced an estimated -$4.9 billion trade deficit for 2018. That amount of red ink represents a 64.8% expansion from Cambodia’s -$3 billion deficit one year earlier.
Below are exports from Cambodia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Cambodia’s goods trail Cambodian importer spending on foreign products.
- Gems, precious metals: -US$5.7 billion (Up by 115.1% since 2017)
- Knit or crochet fabric: -$2.3 billion (Down by -0.5%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$2.2 billion (Up by 9.6%)
- Machinery including computers: -$1.4 billion (Up by 24%)
- Vehicles: -$1 billion (Up by 16%)
- Cotton: -$715.4 million (Up by 0.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$655.4 million (Up by 0.1%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$597.9 million (Up by 25.2%)
- Manmade filaments: -$390.6 million (Up by 9.3%)
- Tobacco, manufactured substitutes: -$332.3 million (Down by -4.7%)
Cambodia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the gems and precious metals category, particularly for gold and, to a much lesser extent, unset diamonds.
Cambodian Export Companies
Not one Cambodian corporation ranks among companies showcased on the Forbes Global 2000.
Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Cambodia. Selected examples are shown below:
- Cambrew Brewery (alcoholic beverages)
- Comin Khmere (construction & materials)
- Kampot Cement (construction resources)
- Kingdom Breweries (alcoholic beverages)
- Sokimex (oil, gas)
- The Royal Group (conglomerate)
Cambodia’s capital city is Phnom Penh, nicknamed the “Pearl of Asia” and “The Charming City”.
See also China’s Top 10 Exports, India’s Top 10 Exports and Capital Facts for Phnom Penh
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 22, 2018
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on July 6, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 22, 2018
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on June 22, 2018
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on July 6, 2019
Wikipedia, Cambodia. Accessed on June 22, 2018
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on July 6, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Cambodia. Accessed on June 22, 2018
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on July 6, 2019