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Cambodia Table of Contents



General--Statistical economic data, including gross national product (GNP--see Glossary), gross domestic product (GDP-- see Glossary) and balance of payments generally unavailable, lacking, or unreliable in late 1980s. Nation evolving toward socialistic central planning, but more than 50 percent of economy, especially retail trade and small scale manufacturing, remains in private sector. First Five-Year Program for Socioeconomic Restoration and Development (1986-90), hereafter called First Plan, inaugurated, with priority on increased cultivation of rice and rubber, increased exploitation of forest and aquatic resources; economically active population about 2.5 to 3 million. Collectivization of agriculture undertaken through organization of from seven to fifteen-families in solidarity groups (krom samaki) as basic production units.

Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing: About 80 percent of labor force engaged in agriculture, forestry, fishing. Main crop is paddy rice; output 2 million tons in 1986; area under cultivation 1.2 million hectares in 1987. Under First Plan, output expected to increase 7 percent annually to 350 kilograms per person by 1990. Production impeded by neglected irrigation systems during Pol Pot years, localized insecurity caused by forays of anti-Vietnamese Khmer insurgents, and lack of phosphate fertilizers. In 1986 principal food crops were maize, cassavas, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, beans, and sesame seeds. Principal commercial crop is rubber. Forests cover approximately 70 percent of land area; first reforestation project initiated in northeastern and southwestern regions of country. Fishing conducted in Tonle Sap, rivers, and offshore in Gulf of Thailand.

Industry: Industrial sector developing slowly because of lack of power and raw materials; accounts for less than 10 percent of labor force. In countryside, unknown number of rice-processing mills and sawmills reportedly back into operation by 1986; in urban areas about sixty state-owned factories produce light consumer goods such as plastic items, hand tools, soft drinks, cigarettes, textiles, nails, jute bags, soap, and basic pharmaceuticals; phosphate fertilizer plant, distillery, and brick tile plant reportedly operating; in 1987 small-scale artisans being collectivized in Phnom Penh, development plans call for opening of brewery, plywood, and cement factories.

Services: Total public sector employment (including state employees, industrial workers, artisans, party cadres, teachers, and armed forces personnel) amounts to about 8 percent of economically active population.

Resources: Limited: gemstones, gold, silver, phosphate, limestone, clay; possible deposits of salt and coal; unexploited deposits of iron and manganese ore, bauxite, and silicon reported; hydroelectric potential from Mekong and Basak rivers.

Exports: Approximately US$3 million in 1986; principal exports natural rubber (latex), timber, resin, mazie, tobacco, and soybeans. Rubber and forest products offer best hope for expansion in near term; main export partners Vietnam, Soviet Union (purchases nearly entire Cambodian output of latex), and other countries belonging to the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA, CEMA, or Comecon--Glossary).

Imports: Approximately US$17 million in 1986; principal imports foodstuffs, fuels, machinery, textiles, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. Main import partners Vietnam, Soviet Union, and other Comecon countries, especially Poland and Czechoslovakia.

Balance of Payments: Negative trade balance from 1979 until 1987. In 1984 extended public debt US$503 million; debt service payments US$4 million.

Exchange Rate: Official rate 100 Cambodian riels per United States dollar; unofficial rate about 123 riels per dollar; Cambodian riel not negotiable in international money markets.

Data as of December 1987

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Cambodia Table of Contents