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Cambodia rises

July 21, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Cambodia is flexing its muscles. The Kingdom of Wonder is part of the 21st century Asia miracle.  The outcome of a five-year government development program has led to a seven percent increase in economic growth last year reflecting an average 7.7 percent annual growth over 20 years.  There is more to come.  

According to Duong Sophak, deputy chief of the Economic Research and International Cooperation Division of the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), Cambodia’s growth –a GDP of US$22 billion – is being driven by the garment and construction industries as well as tourism, trade, transport, construction and real estate. China is the largest investor followed by South Korea and Japan.

Cambodia will host 6.1 million tourists this year, up 11 percent on the corresponding period.  Some 7 million are expected by 2020, and 10 million by 2025 generating US$5 billion in revenue and providing one million jobs.  The majority of visitors are from China, followed by Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Korea, whose appetite for Cambodia tourism remains strong.

There is a flow down effect of this growth. Recently introduced draft legislation is aimed at improving the socio-economic development of Cambodia with higher wages, job creation, increased productivity, investment, and better living conditions. Plans also include the location of factories in areas accessible to rural workers aimed at further alleviating a poverty rate of 12 percent, down five percent from 2013.

The minimum wage of garment and footwear workers – used as the yardstick for the service and construction sectors – has increased to US$170 per month for Cambodia’s 780,000 textile workers, compared to US$40 per month in 1997, and also include health benefits and insurance.

During the past five years 1,500 km of national tarred roads, ports, and railroads have been built as well as improved roads with neighbouring Thailand, Vietnam and Laos and airport infrastructure.

Cambodia now has seven hydropower plants producing 1,328 megawatts of electricity accounting for 58 percent of the country’s electricity demand, and two coal-fired power plants producing 500 megawatts.

According to Suy Sem, the Minister of Mines and Energy, 83 percent of Cambodia’s 14,139 villages have access to electricity up from 51 percent five years ago.

Construction projects worth US$6.4 billion were completed or underway last year, a 131 percent increase on 2013.  The kingdom currently boasts 1,000 high-rise buildings – between five and 54 floors, – compared to a few hundred five years ago, as well as 200 new towns and residential complexes mostly developed in and around the capital Phnom Penh.

The ongoing progress of Cambodia, remarkable as it is, needs to be seen in context.  Between 1970 to 1980 it lost 4 million people to war, famine, genocide and the mass murder of 2,400,000 people by the Khmer Rouge who also pushed Cambodia to ground zero.

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