Reuters - Wednesday, December 29
By Prak Chan Thul
PHNOM PENH, Dec 28 - Cambodia's economy grew 5 percent this year thanks in large part to a recovery in garment exports, a deputy prime minister said on Tuesday, and an industry official forecast further growth in garment shipments in 2011.
"Our economy grew more than 5 percent in 2010 due to more exports of garments and the increase in tourists, following GDP growth of 0.1 percent in 2009," Deputy Prime Minister Yim Chhay Ly said at a ceremony at the Rural Development Ministry.
The contruction sector was still in the doldrums, however. It contracted 42 percent in 2009 and Yim Chhay Ly said it had still not recovered, citing delays to big projects in the capital, Phnom Penh.
Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia , told Reuters that garment exports had risen about 20 percent this year, helped by the economic recovery in Europe and the United States.
"The outlook for next year, I think, remains positive overall," he said, adding that Cambodia would benefit from the European Union's Everything But Arms initiative, which lets some poor countries ship certain products tariff-free to the EU.
According to data from the GMAC, the country exported garments, textiles and shoes to the value of $2.3 billion in 2009, down from $2.9 billion in 2008. More than half of its exports go to the United States.
Kong Sopheareak, director of statistics at the Tourism Ministry, said 2.5 million tourists visited Cambodia this year, an increase of 16 percent from 2009.
"They have spent about $1.7 billion on food, accommodation, local transport and souvenirs," Kong Sopheareak said.
Yim Chhay Ly said economic growth had helped reduce the poverty rate to 26 percent of the population this year from 27.4 percent in 2009. firstname.lastname@example.org; +855 2 399 2102; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))