This section discusses key industries and products of Cambodia. It is part of the Developing Country Sourcing’s Sourcing from Cambodia series to empower buyers looking to enter new supplier markets in Asia.
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Cambodia has come a long way in the few decades since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979. Among the country’s stronger sectors are garments, textiles and agriculture. In 2014, the country exported $12.6 billion worth of products, making it the 82nd largest exporter in the world, according to UN Comtrade.
Banking, telecommunications and possibly other service industries will continue to remain attractive for foreign investors. The tourism industry also has grown in leaps and bounds, contributing significantly to Cambodia’s economy.
Cambodia’s garment industry is so robust that the top five export products of the country are fall under the garments sector, namely knit sweaters, knit women’s suits, knit T-shirts, non-knit women’s suits and non-knit men’s suits. Together, these categories contributed $5.3 billion or 41.9 percent to Cambodia’s export sales in 2014 based on UN Comtrade statistics.
The industry employs more than 700,000 workers in 536 factories.
Tourism has been the second largest source of foreign exchange for Cambodia for decades after the garment industry.
Cambodia is a growing tourist destination, with the hospitality and tourism sectors booming. The year 2015 proved to be a record-breaking year for the number of international visitors, with tourist arrivals reaching 4.7 million.
Cambodia has the cheapest agricultural land in the region with figures that are substantially lower than its neighbors Thailand, Vietnam or Malaysia. This has interested many new companies with projects to grow crops such as sugarcane, cassava, and develop timber and palm plantations.
Agricultural land in Cambodia is generally provided to qualified projects by the Cambodian government on a lease basis. Leases can be 70 years or in some cases up to 99 years.
With 67 percent of the Cambodian population engaged in agriculture, this is the primary industry of the country. Rice is the principal food crop, while rubber is the principal commercial crop. According to the World Bank, Cambodia’s economic growth in 2016 is slow due to weak agricultural growth.
Inflation, at modest rates last year, is expected to climb higher in 2017. Spurring the development of small and medium-sized firms would help to sustain and diversify economic growth.
Construction, mineral & service industries
Construction and rice milling also contribute to industry growth. They accounted for 26 percent of Cambodia’s GDP in 2015, proving that the industry has recovered well after the global economic problems of recent years.
In 2005, Cambodia attracted immense foreign investment due to newfound reserves of oil, bauxite, gold, iron and gems. To date, there has been no industrial scale extraction of precious minerals, although in recent years there have been a large number of exploration licenses granted to both local and international companies. Some companies have made promising finds, and commercial production of gold is likely to begin in 2016.
The service industry had the largest contribution to the country’s GDP. According to the CIA World Fact Book, it accounted for 43.6 percent, which was nearly twice the share of agriculture and industry.