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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Economic development requires rule of law: ESCAP

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Garment factory workers produce items of apparel at a warehouse in Kandal province last year. Heng Chivoan

Economic development requires rule of law: ESCAP

Cambodia has enjoyed strong economic growth but needs to improve its governance and rule of law in order to promote greater development, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (Escap) said in a report released yesterday.

The UN agency noted in its Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2017 that Cambodia experienced steady 7.2 percent growth in 2016, led by the growth of garment exports.

“Exports of readymade garments, accounting for about 80 per cent of total exports, continued to expand well as a result of privileges enabling countries such as Cambodia to gain market access in developed countries,” it said, adding that the sector employed around 600,000 people in the Kingdom.

Oliver Paddison, chief of the Countries with Special Needs section at Escap, said Cambodia needs to address its poor performance in terms of rule of law to increase its development growth. The survey specifically mentioned issues of land acquisitions and property rights.

“Essentially, you cannot develop if you do not improve governance, you cannot develop if you don’t improve transparency, if you don’t improve accountability,” he said.

He also noted that Cambodia’s transition from low-skill to high-skill industry is showing positive signs. However, he added that the Kingdom needed to improve education and skills training if it wanted to eventually move to higher value economic output.

“I also saw there is a large percentage of the population still working in the rural sector,” he said.

“The problem there is that labour surpluses can’t always be absorbed into the industrial sector because of this whole education story.”

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