Iron, steel imports mount as construction sector recovers

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Iron and steel imports amounted to $119.72 million in January-April, up 19 per cent year-on-year. Heng Chivoan

Cambodia imported iron and steel worth $119.72 million in the first four months of 2022, marking an increase of 19 per cent over the $101 million recorded in the same period last year, according to Customs.

This accounted for 1.192 per cent of the Kingdom’s total goods imports over January-April, valued at $10.043 billion, statistics from the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia indicate.

Last month alone, iron and steel imports stood at $35.63 million – up 83.6 per cent from $19.41 million in April 2021 – accounting for 29.8 per cent of the four-month total. April’s figure was 19 per cent better than the year-to-date monthly average.

Huy Vanna, secretary-general of advisory firm Housing Development Association of Cambodia (HDAC), told The Post on May 18 that construction was steadily picking back up nationwide, especially on properties such as flats and homes in the gated communities known locally as borey – both of which command high demand from locals.

And as demand for iron and steel grows, so too do prices on international markets, elevated largely due to the Ukraine conflict, which has also pushed up fuel prices and transport costs around the globe, according to Vanna.

“The increase in the value of iron and steel imports are likely due to two main factors: rising demand in the construction sector, and rising prices on international markets,” he said.

He commented that the price of the iron and steel used in the Kingdom’s construction sector has seen a 10-20 per cent year-on-year jump, adding that these materials are mostly imported from China and Vietnam.

He also cautioned that the iron and steel rate hikes would push up construction costs, which would in turn drive up the prices of finished properties.

Cambodia Constructors Association general manager and secretary Chiv Sivpheng noted that domestic iron and steel production still falls far short of demand from the local construction sector, largely inflating the need for imports.

On the other hand, he said, the rise in imports of these materials underscores that the Cambodian construction sector has remained strong and performed well, even during the onslaught of the Covid-19 crisis.

As the post-Covid era slowly begins to unfold, the uptrend in iron and steel imports will extend into the foreseeable future as construction sector activity picks up pace, especially on large projects, which tend to be owned by foreign investors, he added.

In addition to China and Vietnam, the Kingdom also purchases iron and steel from other countries such as Thailand and South Korea, Sivpheng pointed out.

In 2021, a total of 4,303 new construction projects were approved nationwide, with cumulative registered capital investment of $5.33 billion – down by 31.21 per cent year-on-year – and total floor area of 13.00 million square metres, Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction data shows.