Cambodia's imports of construction materials increased substantially in the first five months when compared year on year, though insiders say the sector still sits below pre-crisis highs.
Some US$307 million worth of material such as steel, tiles, and cement were imported in 2011 to the end of May, from $76 million in the same period last year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Commerce’s Camcontrol Department.
Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Director General Im Cham Rong said the government has noticed a recent uptick in construction projects.
“This shows the improvement of the sector reflecting our economic growth and peoples’ rising living standards especially in Phnom Penh city,” he said.
“We need to import [construction materials] to complement what we lack, and meet the increase in demand.”
Although the sector is showing signs of recovery, insiders say the construction industry still faces challenges.
National Valuers Association of Cambodia President Sung Bonna said the industry was generally on the upswing, though the market was not yet comparable to pre-crisis peaks in 2006 and 2007.
Much of the present development was conducted by local investors, though the sector had been driven by foreign investment in the pre-crisis stages, he said.
“We can say that projects which are developed by foreign investors have seen some recovery from the bottom,” said Sung Bonna, who is also President and CEO of Bonna Realty Group.
“However, we cannot compare to the boom period, so we just close our eyes and imagine we’re in a better state than the years of 2009 or 2010.”
Cambodia imports much of its construction materials from China, as well as Vietnam and Thailand, he added.
Angkeara Trading and Engineering Managing Director Uch Angkeara said the industry had shown signs of recovery. “We are seeing more signs of construction activity,” he said.