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Cambodia’s resilient growth and political stability underpin investment interest

Felicia Tan
Felicia Tan • 4 min read
Cambodia’s resilient growth and political stability underpin investment interest
Cambodia’s economy has shown to be resilient, says Ng Aung San of SSRG. Photo: Albert Chua/The Edge Singapore
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Ng Aung San, founder and co-CEO of Sir Stamford Raffles Group (SSRG), sees Cambodia as an appealing option for investors eyeing overseas properties. “Cambodia has been, if not the fastest, one of the quickest-growing economies [since 2005],” he says, presenting his insights at The Edge Singapore’s Mid-Year Investment Forum 2024 in his talk titled “Growth of Cambodia: Investment Opportunities at Marum Estate.” The forum was held on May 25 at Guoco Midtown.

“Cambodia, as a market, has grown and continues to grow. I wouldn’t say come hell or high water, but it has continued to grow against all odds. It is a very resilient economy,” he adds.

In 2023, the country’s GDP grew by 5.3%, placing it ahead of Vietnam’s 5%, Thailand’s 1.9% and Singapore’s 1.1%. In 2024, Cambodia is expected to grow by 6%, again placing it ahead of its peers, including Singapore’s forecast of 2.1%.

There has been growth when measured using GDP per capita, which was US$540 in 2006 and reached US$1,760 in 2022 — a period when global markets and economies were marked by high volatility, including big swings in interest rates, says Ng. The country’s GDP per capita stood at US$1,917 in 2023 and is tipped to grow to US$2,071 ($2,801) in 2024.

Even during challenging periods like the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) from 2007 to 2008 and the Covid-19 pandemic from 2020 to 2022, he notes that the Cambodian economy swiftly “bounced back” with sustained growth after that. Other favourable factors for Cambodia include its sizeable working population of 9.4 million out of a total population of 17.2 million, along with its youthful demographic; 69% of the country’s populace is under 35 years old, eager to establish families and acquire their first or second homes.

In Ng’s perspective, Cambodia’s political and geographical stability, highlighted by former Prime Minister Hun Sen’s succession to his eldest son, Hun Manet, in 2023, is a significant advantage. The country’s business-friendly environment allows most businesses full ownership with easy profit repatriation.

See also: Adani plans to build port in Vietnam to tap trade opportunities

Moreover, the widespread use of the US dollar in investments and transactions and English proficiency are beneficial factors for companies seeking to establish operations and ventures in the region.

Cambodia’s emerging township

SSRG unveiled its inaugural township project in Cambodia, Marum Estate, in April. Situated in the southern part of Kandal province, it is a 45-minute drive from Phnom Penh’s bustling business district.

See also: Vietnam’s accelerating 2024 economic growth could hit 7%

The province is poised to become Cambodia’s new economic hub with the upcoming Techo Takhmao International Airport. Scheduled to open in 2025, this airport will be the country’s primary international gateway.

Measuring 22.6 ha or 2.43 million sq ft, Marum Estate comprises 642 houses, 259 commercial shophouses, a community club, a school for 750 students from kindergarten to primary, a hospital and an active ageing facility — reportedly the country’s first. The hospital will be run in partnership with Parkway Cancer Centre and Khema International Polyclinic. The development is expected to be completed in 2030 and developed in two phases.

When asked about the feasibility of investing in Cambodia, Ng stressed that the country is a “growing” market that will continue to grow. Property prices will continue to increase, especially once the rate cuts come. “As more developments come online, my prices aren’t going to stay the way they are.”

Citing data from CBRE Cambodia on the average land value growth from 2020 to 2023, the Saang, Kandal Steung and Takhmao districts near Marum Estate registered double-digit growth of between 10% to over 25%. He adds that prices in the southern Kandal region are expected to grow by 8.6% to 23% from 2024 to 2026. 

Regarding less favourable news from the country, Ng highlights that issues like various scams are primarily concentrated in its coastal city of Sihanoukville, renowned for its beaches, lively nightlife and casinos.

He adds that investors will have to be “careful” when putting their money into an investment, but that is par for the course when investing in any other country. Individual due diligence will also have to be conducted. Of course, potential investors ought not to be too focused on a quick punt. “I don’t invest in Cambodia on a short-term basis and I don’t think I should,” says Ng. 

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