Indonesian investors are showing keen interest in key Cambodian sectors, with trade between the two nations surpassing $85 million in the first month of 2024.

Sun Chanthol, first vice-president of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), met with John Riady, CEO of the Indonesia-based Lippo Group, at the council’s headquarters in Phnom Penh on February 19, as per a CDC press release. 

It stated that during the meeting, Riady noted the rapid development in Cambodia and expressed his company’s interest in the country’s investment climate, particularly in areas such as real estate, supermarkets, health, financial services and banking.

According to the release, Lippo has over 60 years of experience in various sectors including real estate, retail, hospitality, entertainment, healthcare, education, media, telecommunications, digital technology and financial services.

“Cambodia’s impressive economic growth and commitment to foreign investment create a highly attractive business environment,” Riady was quoted as saying. 

“Lippo Group is excited to explore opportunities to contribute to the country’s continued development by bringing our expertise and resources to sectors that can improve the lives of Cambodians,” he added.

He highlighted the group’s keen interest in the country’s dynamic economy and its potential for further growth, with plans to collaborate with local stakeholders in developing integrated communities, healthcare facilities and industrial zones. 

The CDC stated that Riady’s visit is expected to enhance economic ties between Cambodia and Indonesia, with the group’s potential investments likely to create job opportunities, support infrastructure development and contribute to the well-being of Cambodian communities.

Data from the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) indicated that trade between Cambodia and Indonesia amounted to $85.48 million in January, a slight decrease of 2.9% from $88.04 million in the same month of 2023. 

Cambodian exports to Indonesia increased by 583% to $14.44 million, while imports from Indonesia were valued at $71.04 million, down by 17.3%.

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Indonesia comprised 2.1% of Cambodia’s total international trade volume for January, which totalled $4.06 billion. Indonesia currently ranks as the country’s sixth-largest trading partner, following China, Vietnam, the US, Thailand and Japan.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), told The Post on February 20 that diplomatic and trade relations between the two countries have consistently been positive, particularly regarding exports from Cambodia to Indonesia. 

He noted that the Kingdom’s participation in free trade agreements (FTAs), especially the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), along with increased domestic production capacity in both quantity and quality, positions Cambodia to further expand its export market.

“Export value to Indonesia is expected to continue to rise, following [their] 2023 promise to strengthen and expand trade with Cambodia, particularly by importing [our] milled rice,” he stated. 

In September 2023, Indonesia announced its intention to purchase 250,000 tonnes of milled rice annually from Cambodia, a move aimed at ensuring its own food security. 

Indonesia pledged to support the Kingdom’s food security infrastructure as well, including providing fertiliser and training to Cambodian farmers.

Indonesian ambassador Santo Darmosumarto underscored the growing importance of trade cooperation between the two nations in a meeting with Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth on December 26, 2023.

He acknowledged, however, that Indonesian businesspeople seem largely unaware of the investment potential in Cambodia, which contributes to the substantial trade imbalance between the two countries.

He suggested that to further strengthen economic ties, both countries should consider implementing bilateral payment systems and establishing direct flights between their major tourist destinations.

According to the GDCE, trade between Cambodia and Indonesia totalled $1.09 billion in 2023, marking a 14.6% year-on-year increase. 

Exports to Indonesia reached $92.74 million, an increase of 151.7% over 2022, while imports from Indonesia were valued at $994.6 million, showing a 9.1% rise.