Cambodia approved major investment projects cumulatively valued at $4.68 billion in 2022, up 7.5 per cent over $4.355 billion in 2021, despite a lack of substantial improvements in regional and global economic conditions.

These figures were revealed in a January 6 report issued by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the government’s highest decision-making body for large-scale investments.

The leading source markets were the Greater China region – comprising mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan – Japan, the Cayman Islands, Thailand and Singapore, the report noted, listing major sectors represented by the ventures as agriculture and agro-industry, tourism, textiles, and infrastructure.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng believes that the government’s relatively early November 2021 adoption of a “Living with Covid” stance, prompted by effective pandemic management, has been a key magnet for investment, especially in tourism, garments and agriculture.

He also views Cambodia’s access to trade preferences from Europe and the US, new investment laws, and free trade agreements (FTA) as major drivers of investment flows, particularly the bilateral FTAs with mainland China and South Korea as well as the broader Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

“In 2022, our economy did well, due to the government’s effective control of the Covid-19 epidemic, which built confidence among both local and foreign investors to do business in Cambodia,” he told The Post on January 8.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath similarly commented that last year’s notable uptick in new large-scale projects reflects the success and efficiency of government reforms aimed at improving the investment and business environment, despite the continued Covid-19 battle and global economic downturn.

“The government has made great efforts to attract investment, such as by introducing new investment laws,” he said. “The garment sector has seen the most growth in new investment projects, and has remained resilient during the Covid-19 crisis.”

Sereyvath remarked that the government has also set out development policies for the agricultural and energy sectors that have stimulated growth in both domains, and thereby fuelled the Kingdom’s economic recovery.

In a December 7 statement, the World Bank forecast Cambodia’s economic growth at 5.2 per cent for 2023, “as increased hiring supports rising domestic consumption and as inflation recedes”.

On November 28, the Ministry of Economy and Finance pegged the Kingdom’s 2023 economic growth at 6.6 per cent, and estimated the 2022 per-capita GDP (gross domestic product) at $1,924.