The Cambodian Economy By: Phoebe Gullion, MagGie frederick, zach fuller, joyce zhang, & Kyle campos

What economic problems have Cambodians faced in the past?

  • Switched abruptly from capitalist to communist economy.
  • There was a drop in rice sales during the 1970s due to Vietnam's production of rice.
  • The economic system was constaantly being built and rebuilt because of constant shift in governmental rule.
  • Riel, the Cambodian currency, was abolished and the national bank was blown up by the Khmer Rouge after their take-over in the 70s.
  • Informal agriculture and trade between villages was destroyed when the Communist Party began collecting crops.
  • "First, the regime ruthelessly dismantled the formal economic structures of the regimes they had succeeded."

What caused these problems?

  • Vietnam produced rice that rivaled Cambodia's export of rice. Vietnam was more successful in their endeavor.
  • "...under-the-counter rice sales to Vietnamese communists cut into the surpluses {Prince} Sihanouk had counted on to earn expert taxes."
  • When Khmer Rouge took over the monarchy, they rebuilt the country's entire economy.
  • Pol Pot wanted an agrarian based economy revolving around Marxist ideals (communism).
  • Western influences were completely cut-off (capitalism, education, and religion).
  • The expulsion of capitalism completely changed the Cambodian economy (made a very dramatic switch between two starkly different economic systems).
  • Leaders neglected industrializing focus on infrastructure and education
  • Pol Pot denied foreign aid and sealed off Cambodia.
  • “The truly impoverished live in makeshift tents in areas where I have never been allowed to wander” (Ung 8).
Depiction of Cambodian mining.

What solutions have they come up with?

  • Accepted foreign aid from China & the U.S.: allowing them to donate machinery & build factories.
  • Expanded economy to textiles and tourism, not just farming and rubber.
  • They have made progress in industrializing areas around cities, however, much of the country remains rural.

What is Cambodia's main source of income? What are the natural resources and trade of Cambodia?

  • Major exports include: garments, footwear, rice, fish, rubber, and timber.
  • Major importants include: petroleum, construction materials, cigarettes, pharmaceuticals, gold, machinery, and motor vehicles.
  • Land, metal and mineral deposits, forests, mining, and fishing.
  • 57% of Cambodia is covered by forest.
  • Mainly mine for phosphate rock, salt, sand, gravel, and stones.
  • There is freshwater fishing in Tonle Saps.
  • “...vendors sell everything from fabrics with stripes, paisley, and flowers to books in Chinese, Khmer, English, and French” (Ung 8).
Tonle Sap fishing village.

What types of jobs exist for Cambodians?

  • Traditionally based on small-scale, subsistence farming.
  • Agriculture makes up the primary sector of the economy.
  • 21% of land is farmed.
  • Fishing in the Tonle Sap reservoir is crucial in the economy and diet of the Cambodian people.
  • "The Tonle Sap is one of the major fishing reservoirs in Asia."
  • Breeding cattle is a source of income.
  • Most workers are allowed to form unions, however, military personnel, judges, and teachers are not allowed to form unions.
  • The legal workweek is 48 hours long.
  • Average wages are low. Average yearly income is $950.
  • Minimum wage varies between jobs.
  • Children between 12-15 are eligible to work. It is supposed to be safe and not affect school attendance, however, the law is spottily enforced.
  • Rice milling is the main food processing industry.
  • "...the huts are low-lying and dispersed widely in the middle of the rice fields" (Ung 24).

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