Cambodia has become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Driven by its high intensity of garment exports and tourism, the country has succeeded in establishing a stable 7.7 percent growth rate in the last two decades.
Although the main key drivers of Cambodia's economy: manufacturing exports, construction, and tourism, have experienced a sharp fall in 2020 due to the global crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has shown signs of a recovery this year.
In addition, the first quarter of 2021 was marked by a 4 percent growth following the -3.1 decline at the end of 2020.
The increase was due to the government's generous support of cash transfers and an improving global demand as other countries reopened their economy.
More than 2.8 million Cambodians have received wired cash transfers early this year to accommodate their livelihood during the likely prolonged pandemic.
The number has increased from the original 2.3 million poor households recorded in June 2020, showing a rigorous tracking system implemented by the government to ensure the flow of fiscal stimulus during the volatile time.
The government, alongside the World Bank and the National Institute of Statistics, has designed high-frequency household phone surveys to monitor the impact that COVID-19 imposes on the country's various household levels.
Today, the survey has recorded that 72 percent of Cambodians are regaining their employment back, albeit still lower than the pre-pandemic level, the numbers are steadily rebounding.
However, besides the risk of COVID-19 new variants surges, Cambodia also faces the long-due challenge to eliminate its poverty rate. Before the pandemic, the country was home to around 4.5 million vulnerable people who passed the poverty level by a small margin.
The pandemic, with its direct severity to the economy, has increased the numbers dramatically. Fifty percent of Cambodian households have reported a decline in income during the pandemic, dragging the country back from its journey to reach the upper-middle-income status by 2030.
Cambodia forecasts its sectors to recover at varying paces; industrial production expects to rise significantly by 7.1 percent this year, relying on garments, footwear, and electronic manufacturings as global tech supplies' demands increase.
Similarly, the country's large agriculture industry has also shown an increase of 1.3 percent due to higher crop production and rising aquaculture exports to China and neighboring countries.
Other industries such as services and tourism would likely recover at a slower pace. As travel restrictions and cross-country borders remain, the government emphasizes the possibility of pressures for some households reliant on the COVID-19 impacted sectors.
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