The World Bank has predicted another strong year for Cambodia with an estimate of 7.2 per cent growth in 2014.
Expansion in the garment sector, which saw 14.1 per cent year-on-year growth by mid-2014, combined with increased investor interest in the construction industry where project approvals surged by $2.5 billion, are driving the strong outlook, according to the World Bank’s October Economic Update report released on Monday.
“Investor confidence has returned after a period of uncertainty that started in July 2013 and lasted until earlier this year, and with it investment has been revitalized,” the report reads.
Growth eased in the agricultural sector, meanwhile, largely off the back of a slowdown in rice production during the 2013 dry season, the report says.
Cambodian farming would benefit from a review of its investment priorities, namely in the areas of agricultural research and irrigation, and more is needed to enhance logistics in the sector, the Bank says.
The outlook resonated yesterday with independent economist Srey Chanthy, who said as Cambodia’s economic climate shifts, sectors like agriculture need further development.
“There is still room for improving productivity in rice, but there is a lot of room for other higher value products,” he said.
Irrigation development with a focus on secondary channels and improvements to roads is needed to help farmers improve productivity and access to market, he said.
In tourism, where the World Bank says political turmoil in niegbouring countries has led to a moderate rise visitor numbers of just 5.2 per cent for the first six months of the year compared with 19 per cent in the same period last year, Cambodia should improve roads and focus on it’s beach and eco-tourism areas to help expand the sector.
Ho Vandy, co-chair of the Private-Public Tourism Sector Working Group echoed the bank’s sentiments yesterday, saying that sustainable tourism investment can help bring prosperity to rural areas.
Road imporvements, Vandy added, was a challenge that needs to be addressed.
“If you have good tourist destinations, but you don’t have the infrastructure, how can people enjoy it?” he said.