Cambodia’s bicycle exports plunged in 2023 – reasons analysis

Cambodia's bicycle exports plunged in 2023 - reasons analysis
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    Cambodia's bicycle exports in the first half of 2023

    In the first half of 2023, Cambodia exported $331 million worth of bicycles to the international market, down 30.5% year-on-year.

    Since 2022, Cambodia has overtaken China as the largest exporter to the European market, and with the double advantage of policy and labor cost, Cambodia’s bicycle export revenue was $900 million last year, and is also the world’s fifth-largest exporter in the bicycle industry.

    According to Payne Sowichit, Undersecretary and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce, who said that Cambodian-made bicycles have been exported to the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and China, among others, and that bicycles have become one of the major manufacturing products after apparel, footwear, and travel goods.

    At present, the Southeast Asian country has five bicycle factories, all located in the special economic zone in Bavet City, Svay Rieng Province, which borders Vietnam. You can also check the top 10 electric bike manufacturers in Vietnam and the top 10 electric bike manufacturers in Southeast Asia for your reference.

    Cambodias bicycle exports plunged in 2023 reasons analysis 1

    These companies have taken advantage of local policy dividends to open factories in Cambodia, which has also enabled the country to leapfrog in terms of the strength and scale of its manufacturing industry.

    However, as demand for e-bikes has declined, Cambodia’s export business has also been affected. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said recently that the current global economic situation is not good, especially in the United States and Europe, and that the global market situation has led to a decrease in the income of people in these exporting countries, so their purchase orders have also fallen.

    While exports have been hampered, there is a growing local interest in electric mobility products in Cambodia, with the Energy Laboratory and the National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD) launching an Electric Vehicle Campaign last year in a bid to raise awareness of the benefits of electric vehicles and to promote electric motorcycles, cars, bicycles, and scooters, such as electric vehicles (EV), but until August 2023, in addition to on-road battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) on the road have increased relatively moderately, electric bikes are still almost invisible.

    Cambodias bicycle exports plunged in 2023 reasons analysis 2

    Sokphalkun Out, Clean Energy and Mobility Engagement Coordinator at EnergyLab Cambodia, which supports clean energy businesses in Cambodia, with a particular focus on startups, believes that the key to increasing e-bikes and e-motorcycle uptake in the country lies in key government policy decisions.

    “Government policies to support charging infrastructure, import tax incentives and subsidies will accelerate e-scooters penetration in Cambodia.” She added that “such policies will incentivize users to have more trust in technology and provide greater reliability.”

    Others believe that the problem lies in the public’s perception of the product. Veasna Srey is the founder and owner of an innovative company that produces quality e-bikes in Phnom Penh. Although he is from France, he has a unique vantage point on the market and the specific social context here.

    He sees one of the things holding back the popularity of e-bikes in Cambodia. For example, one of the reasons for their high popularity in many European countries is that they are used to seeing people from all walks of life using e-bikes for commuting or basic transportation needs.

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    “One problem is that I don’t think Cambodians know what an e-bike is yet,” he explains, “Many people come to my store and see an e-bike for the first time because they knew about e-bikes before.”

    Although e-bikes are slow to catch on in Cambodia, Vaesna believes that young people are more interested in them and will eventually buy them. “More and more foreigners like to change their bikes, and e-bike brand Grood can offer to convert customers’ personal bikes to e-bikes, which will dramatically change the image of the city even if it increases the number of cyclists by 10-20%.”

    Cambodia’s own e-bike market has huge potential, and with overseas market capacity approaching its zenith, developing the home market in conjunction with the differentiated needs of its users may be an alternative.

    Cambodia's bicycle exports for the whole year 2023

    According to a report by the General Administration of Customs of Cambodia, the value of Cambodia’s bicycle exports in 2023 was $416.7 million, a 53.6 percent drop from the previous year and the lowest export value since 2020.

    Cambodia’s bicycle exports have been growing at a rapid pace since 2018, with Cambodia’s bicycle exports valued at $377 million in 2018, $412.5 million in 2019, and establishing itself as a major exporter of bicycles to the EU in 2020, with exports valued at $527 million.

    In 2022, Cambodia’s bicycle exports to the international market will rise sharply to 966 million U.S. dollars, surpassing China to become the largest exporter to the European market and the world’s fifth largest exporter of bicycles, thanks to the multiple advantages of policy and labor costs.

    Cambodia Bicycle exports 2015 2023 USD billion

    The exported products are sold to more than 50 countries and regions such as EU, UK, USA, Canada, Japan, China, etc. Cycling has also become one of Cambodia’s main industries.

    Europe and the United States are Cambodia’s main export regions for bicycles, and changes in demand from both markets have a direct impact on Cambodia’s bicycle exports.

    From January to October 2023, the number of bicycles imported by the EU from Cambodia was 749,155,000, a decrease of 9.9% compared to the same period in 2022, and the total value of imports fell by 6% to 259.4 million euros, although the average selling price increased.

    On the other hand, demand in the U.S. market has also fallen sharply compared to the past, with the number of bicycles imported into the U.S. from Cambodia falling 75% between January and October 2023, from 1,211,167,000 in 2022 to 262,318,000, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission.

    Cambodias bicycle exports plunged in 2023 reasons analysis 3

    Total export value also fell by nearly two-thirds from $281.4 million in the first three quarters of 2022 to $98 million in the same period last year.

    The decline in both the volume and value of Cambodia’s bicycle exports has had an impact on the economies of neighbouring countries, particularly Vietnam, where five companies located in the Bavet Special Economic Zone (SEZ) have had a major impact on their operations.

    These companies are the main producers of bicycles in Cambodia, and the decline in export volume and value has had a direct impact on their operations.

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    In addition, many bicycle companies that chose to locate their factories near the Cambodian border and SEZ were also affected. Secondly, Vietnam, as a neighbouring country of Cambodia and a manufacturer of bicycle parts, could not avoid being affected.

    As Cambodia’s bicycle exports declined and demand declined, so did Vietnam’s bicycle parts exports. You can also check the top 10 bike parts manufacturers in Europe for your reference.

    Hi, I'm an experienced writer about mechanic and an expert on bike and e-bike tech who appreciates practical, beautifully-engineered things. And of course, I love cycling.
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