Cambodia Back on Growth Path: World Bank

Garment workers make clothes at a factory in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Dec. 17, 2021. Photo: Xinhua/Wu Changwei)

PHNOM PENH – Cambodia’s economy is on a path to recovery, led by manufacturing exports and growth in services and agriculture, the World Bank says in a May 18 report.

Cambodia’s economic recovery solidified in 2022 when real growth accelerated to 5.2%, the bank’s Cambodia Economic Update: Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery report says.

“A strong rebound in services, especially trade, travel, and hospitality has helped bring Cambodia back to pre-COVID-19 growth levels, with foreign arrivals accelerating as the country hosts the Southeast Asian Games and ASEAN Para Games,” it says.

“This revival is also boosted by easing domestic prices as global oil and food prices stabilize.

“With the agriculture sector expanding due to improved access to regional markets following newly ratified trade agreements, economic growth is forecast to accelerate to 5.5% in 2023.

“However, an extended slowdown in external demand could weaken export-oriented manufacturing, while continued global financial tightening might expose risks in Cambodia’s highly leveraged financial sector.”

World Bank country manager for Cambodia Maryam Salim, said, “To safeguard its economic recovery, Cambodia needs to diversify its tourism products and destinations and improve its trade competitiveness by boosting connectivity, reducing trade barriers, and streamlining customs procedures.”

Medium term growth is expected to rise to 6 percent, bolstered by strong goods and services exports and a substantial increase in investment, especially under public-private partnerships for large infrastructure projects such as seaports and roads.

The report says Cambodia can aid this growth through investing on connectivity infrastructure and human development, safeguarding financial stability, and promoting diversification of exports to enhance the economy’s resilience and competitiveness.

A special focus section of the report examines how Cambodia has been able to increase social sector spending in recent years, notably on health and education, while noting that the quality of that spending could be improved, it says.

“A stronger focus on both allocative and operational efficiency could help address the uneven distribution of teachers among grade levels and low public trust in state health facilities.”

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