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Cambodia: Recent News and Numbers

After finishing up as host and chair to the 2012 ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh Cambodia hasn't been in the news much recently.  But, wtih the opening of the stock exchange and trading of the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority beginning this week there were a few news Items that caught my eye in regards to Vietnam's southwestern neighbor.


First up is an article from the Wall St. Journal yesterday that details the government's efforts to organically de-dollarize their economy and foster use and trust in the Cambodian Riel, which currently trades at 4,000 to the U.S. Dollar.  That rate has been stable for months now.  Cambodia has been loathe to use regulatory methods to achieve this.  Keeping the riel supply stable and building the domestic rural economy which is where their microfinance industry is strongly growing will improve circulation of riel.  Last year they were able to close the interest rate gap between U.S. Dollar and Riel denominated loans.  The latest monetary bulletin from the NBC, though, is for data from September 2011. 

GDP Forecasts

The ADB released their report on both Cambodia and Vietnam yesterday on GDP growth.  Their expectations are for a 6.5% growth from Cambodia and 5.7% from Vietnam.  The number for Cambodia is consistent with other estimates such as from the IMF and the World Bank.

"The subdued economic outlook for the EU and the United States, Cambodia's main export markets, suggests that GDP growth will edge down to 6.5 percent in 2012," it said, adding that in 2013, growth is seen picking up to 7 percent, tracking the expected upturn in the global outlook.

"Despite the worst floods last year in more than a decade and high levels of uncertainty and recession in the global environment, Cambodia is expected to exhibit healthy economic growth over the next two years," said ADB Deputy Country Director and Senior Country Economist for Cambodia Peter Brimble.

"However, mismatches in the human capital and skills markets, which have intensified over the past few years, highlight the need to bring schools and vocational training institutes closer to the business community, in order to promote quality and relevance to market demand."

Sector Growth

In support of those estimates two key economic figures were noted in the press yesterday.  The first is that internet subscriptions in 2011 rose more than 8 times from 194,000 subscribers to 1.6 milion people, or more than 10% of the population, according to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

The second nugget of information is that visitors via air to Cambodia in the 1st quarter of 2012 increased 20% year-on-year from 505,000 to 608,000 people:

About 1.84 million tourists from ASEAN and East Asian countries visited Cambodia in 2011, or 69 per cent of total incoming tourists, ministry data showed.

Ho Vandy, co-chair of Cambodia’s Tourism Working Group, said airlines have boosted flights on increased demand.

“I noticed that some existing airlines are increasing the number of flights because they have an increase in number of passengers to our country.”

Figures from Cambodia Airports also showed that the amount of cargo passing through Phnom Penh International Airport rose by about 30 per cent, while domestic cargo through Siem Reap International Airport rose by 91.17 per cent.


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Peter Pham is an author, international fund manager, and a registered financial director by the Cayman Monetary Authority (CIMA). In 2013 he published his first book entitled, The Big Trade: Simple Strategies for Maximum Market Returns. He currently manages the portfolio of a global hedge fund and runs an asset management company, Phoenix Capital.  (read more)

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