Institute: Export Income Drop Among Aid Repayment Woes

Export revenue from several of Cambodia’s economic sectors de­creased sharply during the first eight months of 2002, and Cam­bodia is unable to repay interest on foreign aid loans, an econ­omist at the Cambodia Devel­op­ment Re­search Institute said last week.

According to CDRI’s monthly report of economic indicators, the most hard hit exports are fish and rubber, two of Cambodia’s most lucrative sectors.

Compared with the same period in 2001, this year’s fish exports are down from $6 mil­lion to $3.44 million, and rubber exports have fallen from $16 million to $8.2 million.

CDRI economist Kang Chan­dararot attributed Cambo­dia’s struggling industries to a variety of factors, including drier weather and a lower regional demand for rubber. Despite a 56 percent rise in the price of rubber, he said, production decreased 20 percent.

“In my opinion, Cambodia’s old rubber trees produce less rubber,” he said Thursday. “And it is my belief that rubber exports next year will not change much.”

He said fish exports are down be­cause excessive fishing and logging have depleted Cambodia’s fishing grounds and affected annual catch­es. Also, the lack of fish has driven up the prices of meats in do­mes­tic markets, the economist said.

Pork, for example, is 21 percent more expensive this year. “Import­ed pork is now even cheaper than local pork, even after [import] taxes have been paid,” he said.

Kang Chandararot said that the lost income, along with corrupt tax collection and continued government spending, will make it difficult for Cambodia to pay the in­terest attached to foreign aid loans.

“The reason Cambodia relies heavily on foreign aid is because of a lack of state income. If this situation continues for 10 years, then the government will rely on foreign aid for 10 years,” he said.

In the last decade, Cambodia has received nearly $1.4 billion in direct aid, $686.6 million in grant money and another $687.8 million in loans, according to CDRI and government figures.

 

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