Cambodia Grew 7.5 Pct In 2018: World Bank

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The Cambodian economy expanded by 7.5 percent last year, according to the World Bank’s Cambodia Economic Update, released on Monday.

A Yutong bus runs on a road in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 5, 2018. Well-equipped with high-tech and air-cons, Chinese Yutong’s “smart” buses have brought a safe and comfortable riding choice to passengers in Phnom Penh. Xinhua/Sovannara

This better-than-expected growth was driven largely by the rapid expansion of exports and an ongoing construction boom, the World Bank said.

Exports of garments, footwear, and travel goods – which account for more than two-thirds of total merchandise exports – recorded a five-year high, rising by 17.6 percent in 2018, up from 8.3 percent in 2017.

The construction, real estate, and tourism sectors accounted for about 60 percent of total approved investment in 2018.

The potential end of Cambodia’s duty-free access to the European Market – also known as the Everything-but-arms (EBA) arrangement – would likely result in slower exports, it said.

“Improving the investment climate and reducing the cost of doing business along with building skills are key priorities to sustain strong growth in the medium term,” Inguna Dobraja, World Bank country manager, said in a press release.

“Growing evidence highlights that investment in people are essential to drive economic progress and sustainable development.”

The Cambodian Ministry of Economy and Finance also placed the country’s growth last year at 7.5 percent, and said it was the largest economic expansion in the last ten years.

This article was originally published in the Khmer Times.