WORLD BANK SAYS CAMBODIA ACHIEVES STELLAR GROWTH, POVERTY CUT IN PAST 2 DECADES

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Cambodia had achieved high economic growth and poverty reduction in the last two decades, mainly driven by garment exports and tourism, the World Bank said in a report on Thursday.

"Cambodia's economy grew at an average rate of 7.6 percent from 1994 to 2015 - amongst the world's highest, ranking sixth in the world in terms of economic growth," Miguel Eduardo Sanchez Martin, a senior economist at the World Bank-Cambodia, said at a press conference on the report launching.

"This strong growth resulted in the poverty rate declining significantly from 47.8 percent in 2007 to 13.5 percent in 2014," he said.

He said the growth was supported by exports of goods and services (mainly garments and tourism), which grew averagely 19.6 percent a year over the last two decades.

Entitled Cambodia Sustaining Strong Growth for the Benefit of All, the report said around 3.6 million jobs in industry and services were created over the past two decades.

Cambodian Economy and Finance Ministry undersecretary of state Hem Vanndy said Cambodia had worked hard to help lift people out of poverty, and was committed to delivering more inclusive growth across the country.

"We remain committed to openness in trade and investment, and thank the international community for its continued support and belief in a strong and prosperous Cambodia," he said.

Inguna Dobraja, World Bank Country Manager for Cambodia, said over the past two decades, Cambodia's achievements in economic growth and improved living standard of its people had been remarkable; however, challenges lay ahead, as the country aspired to have a more competitive economy, increase productivity, build strong and effective institutions and expand opportunities for all Cambodians.

The report also highlighted challenges and key priority areas for Cambodia to maintain long-term economic growth.

Cambodia became a lower middle-income economy in 2015. The report said as a lower middle-income economy, Cambodia was facing new challenges to sustaining strong economic growth.

"Going forward, Cambodia may not be able to rely on the same factors that drove strong growth and poverty reduction over the past two decades," it said. "Cambodia's successful economic growth is expected to bring a progressive decline in preferential trade treatment and donor financing."

It added that constraints in the business environment also posed a challenge to firm dynamism and economic growth.

"Cambodia ranked 180 out of 189 countries in terms of starting a business, with 87 days needed, compared to an average of 25.9 days in East Asia and the Pacific," the report said.

With the aim of increasing exports and diversifying economy, the Cambodian government has launched a 10-year Industrial Development Policy in 2015, which was designed to attract investment and to broaden the country's manufacturing base.

China has been seen as a major supporter of the policy among foreign countries, as dozens of its enterprises have invested in building factories in Cambodia, especially in the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ).

According to the Council for the Development of Cambodia, China was the largest foreign investor in Cambodia in 2016.

China has also actively supported Cambodia in human capital development. Earlier this week, the Chinese government awarded annual scholarships to 181 Cambodian students, bringing the total number of Cambodian students receiving scholarships for higher education in China to more than 2,000

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK