The local financial industry continued its rapid growth despite multiple regional and international challenges, the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) said on Thursday.
Speaking at the opening of an annual general meeting, NBC governor Chea Chanto highlighted some of the challenges of 2019, a year, he said, was marked by geopolitical tensions in Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East that hindered global economic growth.
He highlighted tensions between the world’s biggest economies – the US and China – and the uncertainty caused by the UK as it scrambled to conclude its departure from the EU.
Chanto said these issues affected international trade and investment across the world last year but noted that Cambodia weathered the storm and maintained an impressive economic growth of 7.1 per cent.
He said Cambodia was the fastest growing economy in Asean last year.
“The banking sector in Cambodia is healthy and contributing to financial inclusion, the improvement of livelihoods and the reduction of poverty,” he said.
The government and banking authorities, he said, are prioritising the adoption of the latest technology in the financial industry.
Exemplifying the growth seen by the local banking sector last year, Acleda Bank Plc president and group managing director In Channy discussed the bank’s achievements last year.
Channy reported that Acleda’s loan and deposit portfolios rose by seven per cent and 12 per cent respectively, helping the bank achieve a 40 per cent revenue growth. Acleda’s non-performing loan ratio, he noted, stood at just 1.2 per cent.
“These achievements give us a strong foundation for growth in 2020 and will help us overcome any challenge,” he said.
The NBC said the asset-to-GDP ratio in the banking sector grew from 20 per cent in 2002 to 189 per cent last year, with assets valued at 207 trillion riel ($51.07 billion).
The credit-to-GDP ratio stood at six per cent in 2002, skyrocketing to 119 per cent by last year, while the GDP-to-deposit ratio went from 12 per cent to 113 per cent during the same period.
As of last year, credit in the industry totalled 117 trillion riel ($28.91 billion), while deposits were valued at 124 trillion riel ($30.62 billion), said the NBC.
Cambodia’s financial health last year, the NBC said, was also bolstered by strong domestic demand and growing exports.
In the first three quarters of last year, Cambodian exports to international markets totalled $10.9 billion. The Kingdom imported $16.5 billion worth of goods.
The NBC said as of the end of last year, Cambodia’s foreign reserves had reached about $18 billion, guaranteeing seven months of goods and services imports.