Cambodia :: Economy

Agriculture: rice, rubber, corn, vegetables, cashews, tapioca

Industries: tourism, garments, rice milling, fishing, wood and wood products, rubber, cement, gem mining, textiles

Exports: clothing, timber, rubber, rice, fish, tobacco, footwear

Imports: petroleum products, cigarettes, gold, construction materials, machinery, motor vehicles, pharmaceutical products

Currency: riel (KHR) - Named after the small silver carp

Exchange rates: riels per US dollar - 4,103 (2006)

Overview: In 1999, the first full year of peace in 30 years, the government made progress on economic reforms. The US and Cambodia signed a Bilateral Textile Agreement, which gave Cambodia a guaranteed quota of US textile imports and established a bonus for improving working conditions and enforcing Cambodian labor laws and international labor standards in the industry.

From 2001 to 2004, the economy grew at an average rate of 6.4%, driven largely by an expansion in the garment sector and tourism. With the January 2005 expiration of a WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, Cambodia-based textile producers were forced to compete directly with lower-priced producing countries such as China and India. Better-than-expected garment sector performance led to more than 13% growth in 2006. Faced with the possibility that its vibrant garment industry, with more than 200,000 jobs, could be in serious danger, the Cambodian government has committed itself to a policy of continued support for high labor standards in an attempt to maintain favor with buyers.

The tourism industry continues to grow rapidly, with foreign visitors surpassing 1 million per year beginning in 2005. In 2005, exploitable oil and natural gas deposits were found beneath Cambodia's territorial waters, representing a new revenue stream for the government once commercial extraction begins in the coming years. Mining also is attracting significant investor interest, particularly in the northeastern parts of the country.

The long-term development of the economy remains a daunting challenge. The Cambodian government is working with bilateral and multilateral donors, including the World Bank and IMF, to address the country's many pressing needs. The major economic challenge for Cambodia over the next decade will be fashioning an economic environment in which the private sector can create enough jobs to handle Cambodia's demographic imbalance. More than 50% of the population is less than 21 years old. The population lacks education and productive skills, particularly in the poverty-ridden countryside, which suffers from an almost total lack of basic infrastructure.

Source: World Factbook, updated August 2007