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Exports to be unaffected by debt crisis

Exports to be unaffected by debt crisis

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Worker Bos Bin loads boxes of clothing into a shipping container at Quantum Clothing Group Ltd’s garment factory in Phnom Penh.

As Cambodian exports continue to grow, commerce officials predict sovereign debt crises in the United States and Europe will not threaten the sector.

“Our export market is surpassing many other countries in the region and around the globe,” Ok Boung, Secretary of State of Ministry of Commerce, said yesterday.

“We see investors from China and Japan are moving here to invest mainly in garments – this is contributing to the growth.”

Total exports surged by more than 46 per cent to US$2.677 billion in the first seven months of the year, compared to $1.827 in the same period last year, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce. Demand from the United States and European countries are stable, Ok Boung said.

Demand for Cambodia’s main exports, such as milled and un-milled rice, cassava and corn, increased by 186 per cent to $245 million, according to official data. Demand for garment and textile rose by 43.29 reaching $2.334 billion.

The government’s goal of exporting 1 million tonnes of milled rice by 2015 has spurred growth in agriculture, especially rice production, Ok Boung said.

“I think our agricultural sector will keep playing an important role for economic growth in the upcoming years,” he said.

Imports rose by almost 50 percent to $3.788 billion from $2.614 billion during the same period last year.

Foods and beverages, the Kingdom’s primary imports, increased by 23.58 percent to $87.475 million. Petroleum imports reached $816.468 million, increasing almost 140 per cent, while raw garment materials increased by 17.78 per cent to $1.446 billion. Auto imports rose by 56 per cent to $209.258 million, according to official data.

Sharp increases in construction materials, about 213 per cent to $367.7 million, show the country’s real-estate and construction industries are bouncing back, Sung Bonna, president of the National Valuers Association of Cambodia, said yesterday.

While construction activities driven by local households and developers restarted in late 2010 nationwide, a resumed flow of FDI from China, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam is a main positive signal for the industry, Sung Bonna said.

However, real estate prices may remain low.

“The industry will get much better by year’s end or early next year. But it doesn’t mean the price [of real estate] is bouncing back,” he said.

Stronger corporate governance and transparent regulations must be in place to continue to attract foreign investors, Sung Bonna added.

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