Over the past decade, Cambodia has experienced significant economic growth; it's GDP has risen from $7.28 billion US in 2006, to over $20 billion US in 2016. It's average annual GDP growth rate exceeds 7 percent––an achievement brought about by growth in Cambodia's garment, construction, agriculture, and tourism industries. Along with the growth of the Cambodian economy is an even more hopeful development: the steady decline in the country's poverty rate. In this decade, the percent of people living below the national poverty line dropped about 6 points, from 20 to 14 percent.
Cambodia is experiencing what is arguably unprecedented levels of economic expansion, liberalization, and development, given its situation in previous decades. This is not to say Cambodia is on the verge of becoming another "Asian miracle." Nevertheless, the country merits increased study and observation from academic, legal, and business communities. Inherent in this is the assertion that, outside of the Greater Mekong subregion, few people are familiar with the current state of the Cambodian economy, its trends, and important events that have affected it.
This blog series will therefore serve as a primer for those seeking to learn more about Cambodia's macroeconomic outlook. It will provide brief résumés of five important issues affecting the economy today. It will act as a small-scale, unofficial "clearinghouse" of major sources of data on the Cambodian economy, such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and important pieces of academic literature. Lastly, this series will address trends going forward, providing an outlook for Cambodia's future economic progress.
The first half of the series will be as follows: first, this series will explore three key factors affecting the Cambodian economy today: foreign direct investment; trade relationships and integration in the region; and the state of Cambodian exports, particularly in the garment industry. The second topic will be an overview of the Cambodia Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone: what it is, where it stands, and the outlook for its short-term development.
The second half of the series will get more specific: third, I will explore institutional reform and the rule of law: Cambodia's standing on global metrics, and the priority areas in need of reform going forward. Fourth, I will address the role of the Cambodian diaspora, with particular attention to Cambodian workers in other ASEAN states. Finally, I will conclude by looking at the prospects for further economic development in Cambodia, and what should be considered a development priority.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the Greater Mekong subregion from an economic standpoint, these blog posts will be a good place to start. In the meantime, I recommend looking through information on Cambodia at the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank. Stay tuned for regular updates going forward.