February 10, 2022
PHNOM PENH – Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth has pegged Cambodia’s economic growth at 5.6 per cent for 2022, reflecting national progress towards herd immunity against Covid-19, underpinned by vaccination rates that rank among the best globally and that have motivated the government to allow the full restoration of socio-economic activity.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony for the new Ministry of Industry, Science and Innovation headquarters building on February 8, Pornmoniroth emphasised that for Cambodia and the rest of the world, 2020 and 2021 were difficult years marked by the unfolding of the Covid-19 pandemic and related socio-economic consequences.
“For the past two years, Cambodia has responded to this crisis with vigour and flexibility, with the implementation of a comprehensive strategy in a proactive spirit.
“As a result of these efforts, Cambodia is one of a few countries – both regionally and globally – that has achieved high vaccination rates and induced strong Covid-19 herd immunity.
“The successes of the national vaccination campaign, and in controlling the spread of Covid-19 in Cambodia has allowed us to close the ‘February 20, 2021 community event’, reopen the country, and fully resume socio-economic activities,” he said, referring to the Kingdom’s third coronavirus wave which was first detected on that date.
These results, along with a swift rebound in manufacturing and improvements in the agricultural sector, propelled the economy to expand at an estimated 3.0 per cent last year, from a 3.1 per cent contraction in 2020, he said.
“For 2022, the Cambodian economy is projected to continue growing at around 5.6 per cent, buoyed by growing expectations of global demand and confidence among foreign investors,” Pornmoniroth said.
On January 31, the World Bank reported that the Kingdom was among the Greater East Asian countries hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, and that meaningful steps to spur domestic investment, greater productivity among businesses and workers, and a more diversified export portfolio would be key to regain sustained economic growth.
World Bank country manager for Cambodia Maryam Salim suggested that a coherent set of short- and medium-term policy actions could underpin an economic recovery strategy that would allow the Kingdom to build back better after a point when Covid is no longer deemed a major threat.
“Getting back to a sustainable growth path will require an ambitious reform agenda that focuses on improving the capabilities of Cambodia’s firms, workers, and households; strengthening regulations to address market distortions and improve the enabling environment for business; and investing in infrastructure that supports higher quality growth,” she said.
Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) deputy secretary-general Kaing Monika told The Post on January 31 that garment production has been stable, and that export growth remains on an upswing.
“Provided the stable condition as it is now, we can be optimistic in 2022 that our export[s] would continue to grow, probably moderate growth for garment[s] and good growth for travel goods.
“Relocation of some garment orders out of China and Myanmar would continue to benefit Cambodia,” he said.
However, Pornmoniroth cautioned that the Cambodian economy still faces high levels of uncertainty due to spillover effects of regional and global developments, including transport and logistics bottlenecks, geopolitical tensions, inflationary pressures, and travel and monetary policy restrictions.
And at the heart of this onslaught of crises lies the Covid-19 coronavirus, which continues to evolve, potentially into more transmissible or dangerous variants, the minister pointed out.
“Against this backdrop, the Royal Government recently launched the ‘Strategic Framework and Programmes to Rehabilitate and Stimulate Cambodia’s Economic Growth in Living with Covid-19 in the New Normal for 2021-2023’.
“This will serve as a roadmap and an effective driving force to revitalise the potential of Cambodia’s economic growth poles, capture emerging opportunities in line with regional and global trends aimed at enhancing growth in a more sustainable and diversified, and build strong socio-economic resilience,” he said.