Cambodia is on course to be the next Asian Tiger, and that is good news for America.
Ford Motors recently announced that it is building a $21 million assembly plant in the Pursat province of Cambodia. And the recent virtual business summit showcased the ease of doing business in Cambodia experienced by U.S. companies in a range of industries—from energy to manufacturing, and financial services to health care.
The Asian Development Bank first dubbed Cambodia as “Asia’s New Tiger” in 2016. Two years earlier, the World Bank said that, from 2004 through 2011, “Cambodian economic growth was tremendous, ranking amid the best in the world. Moreover, household consumption increased by nearly 40 percent. And this growth was pro-poor—not only reducing inequality, but also proportionally boosting poor people’s consumption further and faster than that of the non-poor.”
Cambodia has expanded its economy by an annual average rate of 7 percent. But, just like the original Asian Tigers of the 1960s—South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore—Cambodia’s growth has been strategic and stable. We have not suffered a recession over the last 30 years, even during the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s, the bursting of the dot-com bubble in 2000 and the financial meltdown of 2008.
Cambodia’s conversion to a market economy has been well planned, with growth accompanied by significant social progress. Today, about 13.5 percent of Cambodians live below the poverty line, still too high but a far cry from the desperate poverty we knew some 40 years ago.
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