By Sok Khemara, VOA Khmer Original report from Washington 06 October 2009
Of Cambodia’s main economic earners, it is not tourism or garments that will help it through the economic crisis, but rather agriculture, a leading Cambodian economist said Monday.
“What we have seen and learned from the world crisis is that the agricultural sector should be focused on as an economic target,” said Kang Chandararoth, head of the Cambodia Institute of Development Study, as a guest on “Hello VOA.”
A policy to set up a reserve fund for agriculture is the “pressing issue,” he said. Agriculture was Cambodia’s “gateway to growth.”
Tourism, garment export and construction have all been hard hit by the global economic downturn, with orders for clothing down, number of visitors diminishing and a depressed real estate market.
Kang Chandararoth said that if China’s growth was forecast at 8 percent next year, Cambodia could follow.
“If China can compete with the world and continue with industrialization, then China will bring us more garment work, and we will have benefits from China too, as a subcontractor,” he said.
Cambodia remained behind Vietnam, which “has a real plan and multiple goods to export,” he said. “Not like Cambodia, which does not have so many goods it can export.”
Vietnam’s growth was 4 percent, though Cambodia’s economy could decline 3 percent, he said.