Cambodia’s economy grew at a cracking pace of 11.1% between 2004-2007 but slow to 6.8% in 2008, and further to 4.9% in 2009, according to World Bank figures. A more liberal attitude has in the past few years brought in huge investments, especially in construction from Asian investors, primarily the Koreans, Thais and overseas Chinese. However, despite the recent double-digit numbers, it remains one of the world’s poorest economies, with 35% of its 14 m. people living on less than US$0.50 a day.
Cambodian Agriculture and Fishing
The global credit crisis has affected its top industries –garment manufacturing, tourism and construction. Cambodia is still largely an agrarian rural society since 80% of its population lives in the countryside, and work in agriculture and fishing. Improving yields on rice crops is pretty necessary for its economic growth and the 2009 stimulus budget of US$1.8bn aims to boost agriculture, infrastructure and education. The rubber industry is bouncing back after a hiatus. Wood and paper are taking off but preserving the virgin forests is a growing concern.
Labor Friendly Garment Sector
The garment sector earns 80% of its foreign exchange and employs 350,000 people. Cambodia is attempting to show the world it is an ethical producer with air-conditioned factories and friendly labor relations. Nonetheless, in order to stay up against brutal competition, it needs to further straighten its dealings with labor.
Tourists Arrivals Continue Strong
Tourist arrivals have doubled nearly every 3 years from 300,000 visitors, when doors were barely opened, to an expected 2 million in 2008. It has brought much good to Cambodia – much needed foreign exchange, renewed national pride, interest in traditional arts as well as employment for the younger Khmers. This is a good thing since 50% of the population is less than 20 years old, and a lot of young people will enter the work force in the next 10 years.This will definitely boost Cambodia's economy in the years to come.