THE STAR – Bilateral trade volume between Cambodia and Japan topped $1.7 trillion in 2021, marking a slight increase of 0.49 percent from over $1.692 billion a year earlier, data shows preliminaries of the Ministry of Commerce.

Last year, Cambodian exports to Japan were $1.094 billion, up 3.61% from 2020, and imports were $607 million, down 4.68% year-on-year annually, according to the figures.

This means the Kingdom’s trade surplus with Japan widened to $0.49 billion in 2020 from $0.42 billion a year earlier.

Without quoting concrete figures, Cambodian Chamber of Commerce Vice President Lim Heng told The Post on January 13 that while the increase in trade between the two countries last year was small, investment Japanese in the Kingdom had increased considerably.

Many Japanese companies are now investing in Cambodia’s special economic zones (SEZs), especially in Phnom Penh and Koh Kong province, covering virtually all areas, he said, commenting that a possible bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with Japan would strengthen diplomatic and trade relations. relations between the two countries.

The Post understands that the ministry has set up a working group to study the feasibility of an FTA with Japan.

Heng said a number of favorable factors will act as a tailwind for trade with Japan and other countries, including new investment laws and regulations, bilateral and regional FTAs, as well as various preferences. Cambodia’s tariffs and advantageous arrangements granted by trading partners.

“Several Japanese companies have also mentioned this ‘Japan Plus One’ policy, which implies that if they open stores in Vietnam or Thailand, they will also set up here in Cambodia,” he said.

Hong Vanak, director of international economy at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, noted that trade between the two countries has remained on a positive trend during COVID, with exports to Japan largely unhindered. by the ripple effects of the pandemic.

“With an FTA, investment and trade with Japan would be greatly boosted and, in particular, would encourage more Japanese investors to turn to manufacturing in Cambodia to increase exports to Japan and other countries as well,” did he declare.

Japanese investors in Cambodia tend to favor sectors such as retail, supermarkets, services and restaurants, although many have ventured into tourism, hospitality, banking, construction and real estate.

The ministry listed shoes and garments, as well as electrical and electronic components as Cambodia’s top exports to Japan; and vehicle engine parts, agricultural machinery, electronics and household appliances as major imports.