A store selling rice in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Photo: AFP/VNA)
 
Hanoi (VNA) – Cambodia's economy enjoyed robust growth in 2018, driven by garment exports, construction and tourism, according to a statement released by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) on January 3.

The economic growth for 2018 is estimated to hit 7.3 percent, which is a high rate compared with the growth rate in the last six years, and is higher than the average growth rate in developing countries, the statement said.

Garment exports, construction and tourism had seen two-digit growth last year, it said, adding that garment exports were estimated to increase by 24.7 percent and tourism was expected to grow by 11.5 percent, with some 6.2 million international tourists visiting to the nation.

The NBC statement said the flow of foreign direct investment into the Southeast Asian country rose by 12 percent last year, mainly focusing on banking, real estate and construction, and garment sector.

It added that the inflation moderated to 2.5 percent last year from 2.9 percent in a year before, while the riel against the US dollar remained stable at an average exchange rate of 4,050 riel for 1 USD.

For 2019, Cambodia’s growth is projected at around 7 percent and the inflation is forecast to go up slightly to 2.6 percent.

The statement underlined that the uncertainty of the preferential tariff system granted to Cambodia by the European Union (EU) could pose a downside risk to the growth in coming years.

In October 2018, the EU announced that Cambodia could lose its special trade access to European markets under the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) preferential trade scheme.

According to the statement, the EU would take at least 18 months to decide whether to withdraw the EBA preferences for Cambodia or not.   

The EU is a major trading partner for Cambodia, especially for the apparel and footwear sector. The country's export to EU was valued at about 5.7 billion USD in 2017, data of the EU showed.-VNA