The government is touting a strong seven per cent economic growth from last year while bracing for a significant slowdown this year with much of the blame being put on the Covid-19 epidemic.
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday said the figure reflected growth in many sectors, including industry, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, service and tourism.
“The Kingdom is transforming its economic structure from agricultural production to industry and service provision.
“The government carefully implemented macroeconomic policies and stabilised the economy by promoting economic diversification and competitiveness. It also promoted the production and consumption of domestic products,” he said.
However, the Asian Development Bank downgraded its economic projection for the Kingdom to 2.3 per cent this year despite a strong growth of around seven per cent annually over the past two decades.
Meanwhile, the latest World Bank report sharply revised Cambodia’s forecast for 2020 economic growth to 1.0 per cent (lower case) and 2.5 per cent (baseline), from around seven per cent previously, depending on two scenarios, it said, in a report released on March 31.
The baseline scenario showed severe growth slowdown followed by a rebound to 5.9 per cent next year while the latter indicated deeper contraction followed by a sluggish recovery.
Hun Sen said the government gained momentum in many sectors last year such as trade, energy and electricity as well as infrastructure, all of which reflected the Kingdom’s strong economic growth.
He noted that hydropower and coal power plant production reached 10.6GWh, up 9.93 per cent compared to 2018.
He said the construction sector has continued to grow and that there are 1,700 high-rises nationwide that are between five and 40 storeys tall.
Last year, he said, tourism revenue reached $10 million, up more than 12 per cent from 2018, with international tourist arrivals to Cambodia totalling 6.61 million visitors during this time.
He said the government opened national roads 7 (93.7km), 13 (62.4km), and 53 and 151B (70.6km) last year. The government also began construction of a 190km high-speed highway from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville.
The project is scheduled to be completed early in 2023 with a $1.9 billion investment by Chinese company Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd. It is set to be the main trading route to the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port.
Meanwhile, he said, the government broke ground on renovations of national roads 2 and 22 (72.17km), 10 (198.72km), 58 (174.16km) and 55 (182.16km).
“Road and bridge infrastructure has been consistently constructed in line with the implementation of the Rectangular Strategy Phase IV [under the Public Financial Management Reform Programme],” said Hun Sen.
He said international trade surged to $34.6 billion last year with exports hitting $14.91 billion.
Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay told The Post on Thursday that despite the ongoing health crisis, the government is working hard to facilitate trade registration.
He said the government is also working to reduce the prices of some public services to continue encouraging trade. In particular, the government is currently in the process of negotiating a number of free trade agreements with many countries.
“A ministry working group is currently negotiating free trade agreements with China, South Korea and Russia while considering agreements with India, the UK and Japan,” he said.