The value of goods exported by Cambodia increased nearly 17 percent to $8.03 billion in 2015, according to a Ministry of Commerce report released this week.
Garment exports slowed to a 7 percent increase, though they continued to drive overall growth, accounting for almost three-quarters of all exports. Footwear and rice exports grew 22 percent and 43 percent, respectively.
The European Union remained Cambodia’s top export destination—accounting for more than 40 percent of total exports last year, followed by the U.S., Canada and Japan. Shipments to the U.S. fell slightly, with the value of rice exports to the U.S. tumbling nearly 60 percent.
Srey Chanthy, an independent economist, said that a stronger dollar had made Cambodian products less competitive.
“When the Cambodian economy is dollarized, and the dollar is strengthened, exports are affected,” he said. “When the Thai baht is cheaper than the dollar, $1 can buy more Thai rice.”
Although garments accounted for almost 70 percent of Cambodia’s export value last year, Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia, noted that the growth rate was lower than the 10 percent in previous years.
“[This] was because the industry got effects from illegal protests and wage increases,” Mr. Loo said. “Illegal protests need to be stopped…. The minimum wage should be raised little, or depending on productivity.”
“And it would be very helpful if the union law is implemented effectively,” he added.