Cambodia 2023 Economic Data In Review

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With 2023 behind us, economic data sets for the year are slowly being released by the relevant Cambodian government ministries and relevant associations. We look at how the Southeast Asia country performed in 2023 based on the data available on exports and within the four key economic sectors of manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, and construction & property.

We will update this article as more information is officially released.

Economic Growth in Cambodia 2023

The year was significant mainly due to the change of leadership in the government, but there has been a smooth transition to a younger generation of new leaders for the Kingdom of Cambodia, which launched its Pentagonal Strategy which outlined its plan of fostering economic growth, job creation, equity, efficiency, and sustainability for decades to come.

Cambodia’s GDP per capita was estimated to be USD $1,917 in 2023, while the GDP growth estimates from the Cambodian government and other leading institutions have been within a tight range but the latest estimate is expected to be around 5.1 – 5.3 per cent.

In terms of trade, Cambodia’s international trade was worth USD $46.82 billion in 2023, a decline of 1.9 per cent compared to 2022.

The total exports were valued at USD $22.64 billion, but exports to RCEP member countries saw an increase in 2023, rising by 28.8 per cent and to the value of USD $8.17 billion according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE).

The top 5 export markets among the RCEP were: Vietnam, China, Japan, Thailand and Singapore. This was also worth more than a third (34.6 per cent) of the total exports in 2023.

For 2024, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have forecasted Cambodia’s GDP to be six per cent and 6.1 per cent respectively. The Ministry of Economic and Finance estimates Cambodia’s economy will reach 6.6 per cent in 2024.

Cambodian Investments

In 2023, Cambodia attracted fixed-asset investment to the value of USD $4.92 billion according to the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC). This is an increase of 22 per cent compared to 2022, and the main industries to benefit were infrastructure and agriculture.

This value was spread among 268 approved projects which the CDC claims will generate just over 300,000 jobs. China still accounted for two-thirds of the foreign investment, followed by Singapore and Malaysia.

The Investment Law which was implemented in 2019 and the changes in Cambodian tax incentives are also seen as cornerstones to ongoing economic growth.

Tax Forum 2023: Panel Discussion on Tax Incentives
Tax Forum 2023: Panel Discussion on Tax Incentives

CSX Grows In 2023

There were 22 listed companies on CSX (Cambodian Stock Exchange) consisting of 11 equity securities and 11 corporate bonds that have collectively raised approximately USD $359 million from the capital market as of December 2023.

Some of the highlights in 2023, were the first two education sector listings, the first sustainability bond listing, as well as the telco Cellcard list on the CSX – the year saw the highest number of listed companies enter in a calendar year.

CSX also made it easier for online trading, which has seen the number of CSX accounts be on track for approximately 50,000 by the end of the year.

  • The first Collective Investment Scheme (CIS) was also approved by the Securities and Exchange Regulator of Cambodia (SERC).
  • The Cambodia Association of Securities Firms (CASF) was officially launched.

The Cambodian Stock Exchange wants to have 100,000 trading accounts by 2024, with an average daily trading value of USD $100 million by 2030.

cambodian securities exchange new trading initiatives

Expansion Of Cross-Border Payments And Rise Of QR Codes

The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) made several advancements in cross-border Quick Response (QR) payment agreements throughout 2023.

The Kingdoms saw QR code payment agreements with Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and China’s UnionPay International and Alipay, while discussions with ASEAN, African, and Pacific countries also made progress.

Cambodia Manufacturing 2023

The Industrial sector which is mainly fuelled by the garment and manufacturing sub-sectors increased by around 5 per cent in 2023 reported the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) budget brief report for the fiscal year 2024.

“The industrial sector is projected to continue growing at around 8.5 per cent in 2024, up from about 5.0 per cent in 2023, due to an expected recovery in the garment sub-sector, while the non-garment manufacturing sub-sector continues to maintain strong growth.

The General Department of Customs and Excise reported that in 2023, Cambodia exported USD $11.12 billion worth of garment, footwear and travel products to international markets. This was a decrease of 12 per cent from $12.68 billion in 2022.

In total, Cambodia recorded:

  • USD $1.36 in exports from footwear, gaiters and related articles in 2023 – this represented a 21 per cent decrease compared to 2022.
  • Apparel and textiles accounted for nearly $8.13 billion in 2023, a drop of 11 per cent from USD $9.16 billion in 2022.
  • Travel goods exports were worth USD $1.63 billion – down 8 per cent from 2022.

Ly Khun Thai, president of the Cambodian Footwear Association (CFA), told the Phnom Penh Post that there is increased optimism for 2024 due to the number of orders placed towards the back half of 2023.

Minimum Wage In Cambodia To Increase To $204 In 2024
Employees of a garment factory check the quality of stitched garments before packing in the outskirts of the Cambodian capital city Phnom Penh (AFP/Getty Images)

Tourism in Cambodia 2023

Cambodia’s premium tourist attraction in 2023 was still the Angkor Archeological Park. Approximately 800,000 international visitors were recorded to have visited in 2023, generating USD $37.1 million in revenue, according to Angkor Enterprise.

In the first ten months of 2023, Cambodia received 4.4 million international tourist arrivals leading to the government predicting total numbers for the year to reach 5.4 million foreign visitors for the year. The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) confirmed the total number to be 5.43 million by the year’s end.

The total earned gross revenue was worth USD $3.04 billion in 2023, confirmed the Ministry of Tourisms in February 2024.

International tourist arrivals were led by visitors from neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, while China and the USA were also ranked highly. The three top countries contributed over 3 million of the total visiting tourist numbers in 2023.

  1. Vietnam (1.01 million)
  2. Thailand *
  3. China (547,789)
  4. Laos (372,285)
  5. United States (184,780)

*Thailand numbers were not listed in the January 2024 MoT report but should be among the top 3 based on all of their data released throughout 2023.

Initially, the data released suggested that the average foreign visit was between two and three nights, while before 2020, the average was four to five nights in the Kingdom. (There is conflicting data in the MoT February 2024 report which suggests the average stay was 7.6 days)

In addition, 18 million domestic tourists were accounted for in 2023. The MoT predicts the number of international visitors to Cambodia to reach 7 million by 2025.

MTF 2023 - Sustainable Tourism
Kulen Waterfalls in Cambodia

Construction And Property – Cambodia 2023

We are still awaiting the complete data on the property and construction sector for 2023 in Cambodia, but there is a feeling they may have been flat or only seen marginal growth. In the first three quarters of the year, the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC) granted licenses to 2,600 construction projects with a total investment of $4.96 billion.

Some major projects were still launched, including what will become some of the tallest buildings in Cambodia, but overall prices have re-aligned to what some experts in the sector say is more realistic. 

Some of the potential positives for 2024 are the likely lowering of US interest rates, and a recovery in the Chinese market, but both are still unclear at the start of the year. The FDI Standouts Watchlist also ranked Cambodia as having the strongest investment momentum into 2024 using data of nations which are entering the new year with a strong macroeconomic and FDI momentum.

Several major infrastructure projects are still under development for several years, including expressways, bridges, the new Techo Takhmao International Airport in Phnom Penh, and the upgrade to the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (PAS) etc.

In 2024, there is an expectation the master plan to help resolve the issue of the vacant buildings in Sihanoukville will be announced by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet, while a raft of changes to establish a building code more in line with international standards is being developed.

Construction And Property - Cambodia

Agricultural Sector In Cambodia

In 2023, Cambodia exported 8.4 million tonnes of agricultural products, generating around USD $4.3 billion in revenue, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The main products exported were rice, bananas, mangoes, cassava, cashew nuts, corn, palm oil, pepper and tobacco.

Agri Exports From Cambodia

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, exports in the agri sector from Cambodia in 2023 were made up of:

  • Dried cassava chips – 1.2 million tonnes
  • Cassava – 1.9 million tonnes
  • Cassava Flour –  36,000 tonnes
  • Cassava Waste – 74,000 tons
  • Cashew Nuts – 420,000 tonnes*
  • Corn – 71,000 tonnes 
  • Catjang seeds – 28,000 tonnes
  • Soybean seeds – 54,000 tonnes
  • Bananas – 290,000 tonnes**
  • Mangoes  – 160,000 tonnes
  • Dried Mangoes –  27,000 tonnes
  • Longans – 17,000 tonnes.
  • Assorted vegetables –  540,000 tonnes

The available data for other products exported from Cambodia in 2023 such as oils and spices include:

  • Palm Oil – 79,000 tonnes 
  • Pepper – 6,000 tonnes***

Cashew Exports Cambodia

Cashew Nuts*

This was worth USD $837 million based on exports of 656,000 tonnes of cashews according to the Cashew Nut Association of Cambodia – data which contradicts that released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries as reported by the Khmer Times. This still represented a year-on-year decrease of 16.9 per cent in value and a 7.6 per cent decline in volume. The product also needs to diversify export markets as 618,000 tonnes (over 94 per cent) were sent to Vietnam.

Over recent years, Cambodia has exported approximately:

  • 2019 – 600,000 tonnes 
  • 2020 –  950,000 tonnes 
  • 2021 – 1.1 million tonnes 
  • 2022 – 670,000 tonnes

Banana Exports**

This number in 2023 is a decline of over 20 per cent compared to 2022 with a decline of the Chinese market seen as one of the main reasons for the drop, as well as the impacts of climate change.

Kampot Pepper Exports 2023***

The Kampot Pepper Promotion Association recorded Cambodia as having exported 103 tonnes of Kampot pepper in 2023, which is registered as a Geographical Indication in the European Union.

The EU was the biggest market for the export of Kampot Pepper, receiving 85 per cent, while the remaining 15 per cent were shipped to the US, Canada, China, Japan, and South Korea.

Kampot Pepper Cambodia

2023 Rice Exports From Cambodia

Cambodia exported over 656,000 tonnes of milled rice in 2023, which is a 3 per cent increase from 2022. This generated USD $465 million in revenue, according to the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF). There has been a target of 1 million tonnes of milled rice for several years but this has yet to be met,

In addition, 4,387,363 tonnes of paddy rice valued at approximately USD $1.32 billion was exported in 2023.

In total milled rice was exported to 61 destinations:

  1. China and its Hong Kong Autonomous Region totalled 212,756 tonnes (USD $138 million)
  2. 26 EU members received 264,683 tonnes (USD $191 million)
  3. 7 ASEAN members were sent 93,376 tonnes (USD $62 million)
  4. 26 destinations in Africa and the Middle East imported 85,508 tonnes (USD $76 million).

In terms of the rice varieties exported from Cambodia in 2023:

  1. Fragrant rice varieties – 82.29% 
  2. White rice – 12.94% 
  3. Parboiled rice – 2.92% 
  4. Organic milled rice – 1.62% 
  5. Short-grain white rice – 0.03% 
  6. Glutinous milled rice – 0.2% 

Rice Exports Cambodia

Mining in Cambodia

The Ministry of Mines and Energy reported that the mining sector has contributed royalties from all registered mine activities of more than USD $50 million in 2023, compared to USD $2 million in 2013. 

There are currently six approved companies operating mines in Cambodia while three more are setting up their mining sites.

Cambodian Business Registrations – 2023

The Online Business Registration System (OBRS) saw 1,000 businesses with a total capital of nearly USD $3.8 billion register on the online platform phase 1 in 2023.

By the end of 2023, a total of 23,323 ventures have been registered since it launched on June 15, 2020, with a total registered share capital of USD $9.6 billion. In total 17,711 other ventures were rejected. 

Just over one-third (37.73 per cent) of the businesses are owned by women. By business industry, the registered businesses can be broken down as:

  • Construction$1.13 billion, or 11.73%
  • Real estate activities – $1 billion, or 10.46%
  • Accommodation services – $999 million, or 10.41%
  • Management consulting – $582 million, or 6.05%
  • Manufacture of apparel (except fur) – $508 million, or 5.3%
  • Others – $5.38 billion, or 56.05%

Find Out More About Cambodia in 2024:

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