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PM: ‘Peace and stability the bedrock of growth’

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High-rise buildings in Phnom Penh. PM Hun Sen said peace and political stability was the bedrock of Cambodia’s 7.1 per cent economic growth. Heng Chivoan

PM: ‘Peace and stability the bedrock of growth’

Prime Minister Hun Sen, speaking to thousands of Cambodian People’s Party faithful who had congregated on Koh Pich to commemorate the 41st Victory Day on Tuesday, said peace and political stability was the bedrock of Cambodia’s 7.1 per cent economic growth.

Low inflation, a stable exchange rate and increasing foreign reserves indicated a burgeoning economy, he said.

“Thanks to the achievements in the economic sector and the equitable redistribution of wealth for the whole of society, living conditions have improved, as reflected in the rise of the GDP per capita from $1,548 in 2018 to around $1,679 last year.

“The poverty rate in Cambodia is below 10 per cent at present, while unemployment stands at 0.3 per cent,” Hun Sen said, adding that the Kingdom’s political stability had restored investor confidence, particularly in construction and manufacturing.

The prime minister said Cambodia was less reliant on agriculture amid strong growth in the services and industrial sectors. However, in a sustained effort to boost farming, he said the government was striving to increase production, maintain stable prices and widen market access for agricultural products.

Local consumption and international trade had also seen notable leaps, he said.

The Kingdom’s economic growth was 7.1 per cent last year, with an inflation rate of around 1.9 per cent. This year, economic growth is forecast to be at seven per cent, with inflation at 2.3 per cent, according to the Macroeconomic and Banking Progress 2019 Report and 2020 Outlook released by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) last week.

Kaing Monika, the deputy secretary-general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, which represents more than 500 factories, told The Post on Monday that the Kingdom was among the nations leading the charge on poverty reduction.

“Moving forward, the private sector would like to see continued peace and social and political stability, along with pragmatic reforms responsive to the competitive global environment. We can confidently say that history will judge the current government favourably.

“Of course, much more is to be done in response to the current fast changing global environment. The government will have to continue to be innovative, be well-informed of global trends and development, and be ready to adapt when the situation requires.

“Now more than ever, the collective national interest shall prevail over personal interest. Cambodia has a glorious history and we all have the civic duty to reclaim it on the world stage,” Monika said.

Investmentasia founder Reid Kirchenbauer said Cambodia – along with Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia – is among the four best Asian investment options.

“Cambodia’s progress since the 1980s has been nothing short of amazing. Today, it is one of Asia’s fastest growing economies – and one of the most business-friendly frontier markets on earth.

“Foreigners face few restrictions in Cambodia. You can easily start a business and own 100 per cent of it. Buying property in Cambodia is a solid investment choice as well, especially with real estate prices in Phnom Penh hovering at around $1,000 per square metre. That is practically unheard of in a capital city, let alone anywhere with an urbanisation rate as high as Cambodia’s,” Kirchenbauer said.

According to the NBC, Cambodia attracted more than $3.588 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) last year – an increase of nearly 12 per cent on 2018’s $3.212 billion. Of this, the financial sector received FDI worth $2.385 billion, with the non-financial sector receiving $1.203 billion.

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