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Foreign Trade of Cambodia

The government controlled all official foreign trade. In July 1979, the Ministry of Local and Foreign Trade set up the Kampuchean Export and Import Corporation (KAMPEXIM, the state trading agency) to handle exports, imports, and foreign aid. In addition, the National Trade Commission was created to be in charge of both internal and external economic coordination. In March 1980, the Foreign Trade Bank was formed to deal with international payments, to expand trade, to provide international loans, and to control foreign exchange. There were reports of special clearing arrangements for trade among the Indochinese countries and with some members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA, CEMA, or Comecon--see Glossary).

Cambodian Trading Partners

Cambodia's major trading partners in the 1980s were Vietnam, the Soviet Union, and the countries of Eastern Europe, particularly the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria. Cambodia also claimed to have trade relations with Japan, one of several countries that had recognized Sihanouk's Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK) and had imposed a trade embargo on the Phnom Penh government of the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK).

In February 1979, Cambodia signed a Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation with Vietnam that formally strengthened "solidarity and cooperation" between the two countries. As part of the Vietnamese aid program to Cambodia, a joint scheme of pairing Cambodian provinces with Vietnamese "sister provinces" was inaugurated in the same year for the purposes of economic cooperation and of technical, educational and cultural exchange. Cambodia's Rotanokiri Province, however, was linked with two neighboring Vietnamese provinces--Nghia Binh and Gia Lai-Cong Tum. In addition, the municipality of Phnom Penh was paired with two Vietnamese cities--Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Except for the municipalities of Hanoi and Haiphong, all of the Vietnamese participants in the scheme were located in former South Vietnam near their Cambodian counterparts.

Major Manufacturing Industries in Cambodia

In early 1986, the major industrial plants in Phnom Penh included the Tuol Kok textile factory, the largest of six textile factories in the city (the factory was idle three days a week, however, because of power shortages). There were also four power plants, a soft drink plant, a tobacco factory, a ferro-concrete factory, and some other enterprises that produced consumer goods.

In the municipality of Kampong Saom and in neighboring Kampot Province, rice mills, lumber mills, small brick and tile factories, power plants, an oil refinery, a tractor-assembly plant, cement and phosphate factories, and a refrigeration plant for storing fish were reported to be in operation.

Employment Trends in Cambodia


Employment in Cambodia is characterized by a large proportion of the labor force that works in informal economic activities (either self-employed or working for non-registered enterprises). Formal sector employment – despite strong growth – remains small: paid employees account for only 25 percent of the workforce, while the remainder are split roughly equally between self-employment and unpaid family labor. There has not yet been an official consensus on how many workers are engaged in informal economic activities, but the Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI) estimated 95 percent were employed by the informal sector in 2000-2001, while the Economic Institute of Cambodia (EIC) estimated 85 percent (ILO, 2006).

Reality Trends in Cambodia


Cambodia’s real estate sector enjoyed unprecedented growth from 2006 to mid-2008. During this period the sector created new-found wealth for hundreds and construction jobs for thousands. But in a market fuelled by speculators, prices became overinflated; people became intoxicated on property and are now suffering headaches.

Speculators who a year ago were buying up real estate in the hope of selling it on to developers for a profit, have been left high and dry as prices have fallen.

Property values have fallen by 25-30 per cent in Cambodia and investment in the sector has virtually ground to a halt. Construction investment has fallen 40 per cent; some major projects have been put on hold or cancelled, and the fortunes of many high-flyers have been lost, along with numerous property-related jobs.

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News in business and economy

Cambodia Vows to Probe Opposition ‘Movement,’ Take Legal Action

RFA - Wed, 2018-01-17 21:30
Officials suggest the CNRM is part of a foreign-backed plot to topple the government. catched

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