EU subsidies have been blamed for sugar industry land grabbing ©AFP Getty Images
EU subsidies have been blamed for sugar industry land grabbing ©AFP Getty Images

Country spotlight: Cambodia

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
30 November 2018

Population
16.3 m

Area
181,035km²

The helicopter view
Since 1979 and the overthrow of Pol Pot’s regime, the People’s Party of Cambodia has been in power. Pressure is building with the West’s exasperation with its political record, and the last surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge finally convicted of genocide. 

Economic outlook
The economy is expected to expand 6.7% in 2019, with strong growth supported by tourism and the textiles sector – 80% of total exports are garments – despite the fact that Cambodia’s tariff-free access to the EU is under threat, which would likely hit hard.

Biggest foreign investors
China is Cambodia’s largest foreign direct investor, with investment capital of $1bn annually. Around 99% of garment companies are foreign-owned and Cambodia is the fifth biggest garment exporter to the EU.

Supply chain issues
Almost 1m people, mainly women, work in the textile industry, with 70% working in vulnerable conditions, with long hours for a salary under $200 per month. There are also concerns over land grabbing by sugar companies.

Strengths
Cambodia has a young population and good offshore reserves of oil and gas.

Challenges
The country has poor transport and utility networks, as well as high rates of poverty.

Bottom line
Cambodia performs poorly on equality, labour rights, the environment and political freedoms. The re-election of prime minister Hun Sen in July has caused concern. As part of a crackdown on dissent, a new offence of “insulting the king” has been created and the media has been gagged.

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