Cambodia is Staging an Impressive Comeback

Epoch Times
28 February 2015

When a developing country loses 25 percent of its population, it’s hard to make a comeback. With the help of the international community, Cambodia is on track to doing just that.

“In 2006, the aspirational goal was for Cambodia to halve poverty by 2015. Cambodia already reached that goal in 2011,” said Alassane Sow, the World Bank’s Country Manager for Cambodia. After decades of civil war ending in 1989 and the mass killings of the Khmer Rouge communist regime in the ’70s and ’80s, this could hardly be expected.

Since 2004, Cambodia has reduced the number of people below the poverty line, who earn less than $2.30 per day from 53.2 percent to 20.5 percent. It would not have made it without the help of the international governments, private companies, and NGOs.

“Without the international community, the country wouldn’t be anywhere. It still relies on foreign money, there is little capital and technology. Everything is imported,” says John Paul Dau, VP of operations of Angkor Gold Corp., a Canadian mining company active in Cambodia.

Because Cambodia only exports low value-added products such as raw agricultural produce, the country doesn’t generate enough revenue to pay for imports like Caterpillar trucks and cement to build roads. Think of trying to pay for a Caterpillar truck with raw cashew nuts. In addition, the country also doesn’t have access to international capital markets to borrow foreign currency.

“Cambodia needs more infrastructure. Better roads, more roads. Power, power is an issue. Those are the two main ones,” says Dau.

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