Cambodia has approved more than $3 billion in investment projects in the first half of the year, nearly double the total value signed up in the whole of last year, the latest data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia shows.
The government signed of on $3.1 billion from January to June, compared to just $1.6 billion in the entirety of 2014, according to the CDC.
China tops the list with value of projects registered, followed by South Korea, the European Union, Malaysia and Vietnam.
The main sectors are tourism, industry and services according to the data, although the CDC did not provide a detailed breakdown.
Independent Economist Srey Chanthy said the lure of cheap labour, when businesses were eyeing the benefits of the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community, where among the attractions for investors coming to Cambodia.
Although, Chanthy added, that not all approved projects are likely to see the light of day.
“Normally, it does not take long for the CDC to approve requested or proposed investments as long as investors have all required papers.
But real investments is something else because sometimes certain investments are not worthwhile, so investors just drop them,” he said.
Song Saran, the owner of Amru Rice, one of Cambodia’s largest rice exporters, said the agriculture industry has a lot of potential for further investment, but said it was challenging for local investors who could not source capital as cheaply as foreign investors.
“It is a big concern for local rice millers and exporters.
We have already lost some market share to international investors, as they have more marketing networks, financing, and experience,” he said.
In early July, the International Monetary Fund projected that Cambodia’s GDP to grow by 7 per cent this year, at a similar rate to last.
Growth would be driven by construction, real estate and garments exports while the inflation is expected to rise moderately to 2.6 per cent by the year’s end due to the sharp oil decline in oil prices, the IMF said.