Located on the Indochina peninsula in southeastern Asia, the Kingdom of Cambodia shipped an estimated US$25.2 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount reflects a 195% increase since 2015 and a 98.2% uptick from 2018 to 2019.
Given Cambodia’s population of 16.5 million people, its total $25.2 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $1,500 for every resident in the southeastern Asian country.
The latest available country-specific data from 2018 shows that 81.9% of products exported from Cambodia were bought by importers in: the United States (24% of the global total), Germany (8.6%), Japan (8.5%), United Kingdom (8%), China (6.8%), Canada (6.1%), Spain (4%), Belgium (3.9%), Netherlands (3.4%), France (also 3.4%), Vietnam (2.8%) and Thailand (2.5%).
From a continental perspective, 38.7% of Cambodia’s exports by value was delivered to European countries while 30.7% was sold to importers in North America. Cambodia shipped another 28.4% worth of goods to Asia. Smaller percentages went to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.8%), Africa (0.5%) and Oceania led by Australia (0.9%).
Cambodia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Cambodian global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Cambodia.
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: US$8.8 billion (35% of total exports)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $4.1 billion (16.3%)
- Gems, precious metals: $3.8 billion (15%)
- Footwear: $2.5 billion (10%)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $1.5 billion (6.1%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $579.5 million (2.3%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $526.8 million (2.1%)
- Vehicles: $516 million (2%)
- Cereals: $440.8 million (1.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $312.4 million (1.2%)
By value, Cambodia’s top 10 exports accounted for 91.8% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Gems and precious metals was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 4,297% from 2018 to 2019 and powered by higher international sales of precious metal scrap and gold. In second place for improving export sales was furniture, bedding, lighting, signs and prefabricated buildings via a 289.2% gain. Cambodia’s shipments of unknitted and non-crocheted clothing and accessories posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 230.7%.
The most modest increase among Cambodia’s top 10 export categories was cereals thanks to a 5% improvement year over year, due mostly to higher global sales of rice.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, precious metal waste and scrap represents Cambodia’s most valuable exported good at 9.8% of Cambodia’s total exports. In second place were knitted or crocheted jerseys and pullovers (9.6%), knitted or crocheted women’s clothing (6.5%) trailed by unknitted and non-crocheted women’s clothing (6.3%), cases, handbags and wallets (6%), gold (5%), knitted or crocheted t-shirts and vests (4.6%), leather footwear (3.8%) and textile footwear (3.5%).
Overall, Cambodia posted an estimated $2.1 billion trade surplus in 2019. That amount of black ink represents a reversal from Cambodia’s -$4.7 billion deficit one year earlier.
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$8.6 billion (Up by 31.8% since 2018)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $4 billion (Up by 243.9%)
- Footwear: $2.3 billion (Up by 161.2%)
- Gems, precious metals: $1.9 billion (Reversing a -$490.1 million deficit)
- Leather/animal gut articles: $1.5 billion (Up by 172.4%)
- Cereals: $433.2 million (Up by 14.7%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: $324.5 million (Up by 1495.4%)
- Vegetables: $210.6 million (Up by 2111.1%)
- Copper: $41.5 million (Reversing a -$13 million deficit)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $39.9 million (Reversing a -$2.6 million deficit)
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.
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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$2.4 billion (Up by 28.4% since 2018)
- Knit or crochet fabric: -$2.3 billion (Down by -14%)
- Machinery including computers: -$1.9 billion (Up by 101%)
- Vehicles: -$1.5 billion (Up by 14.4%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$982.5 million (Up by 264.8%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$728.6 million (Up by 126.7%)
- Cotton: -$630.7 million (Up by 8%)
- Manmade filaments: -$426.1 million (Up by 236.2%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$421.3 million (Up by 85.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$362.7 million (Down by -2.3%)
Cambodia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels-related category. This is true notably for refined petroleum oils, electrical energy and petroleum gases.
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)
In macroeconomic terms, Cambodia’s total exported goods represent 32.7% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($77 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 32.7% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 27% for 2018. Those metrics suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Cambodia’s total economic performance.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Cambodia’s average unemployment rate was 0.7% in 2019, unchanged from 2018 according to Trading Economics.
Cambodia’s capital city is Phnom Penh, nicknamed the “Pearl of Asia” and “The Charming City”.
See also China’s Top 10 Exports and India’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on June 1, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 1, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 1, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on June 1, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 1, 2020
Wikipedia, Cambodia. Accessed on June 1, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on June 1, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Cambodia. Accessed on June 1, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on June 1, 2020
WorldOMeter, Cambodia Population. Accessed on June 1, 2020