Cambodia - Future trends

With its debilitated infrastructure resulting from 3 decades of civil war and strife, Cambodia faces tremendous economic challenges in the years ahead. Major disparities between rural and urban areas remain a persistent problem. Reform implementation, particularly in the area of governance, also remains a major issue. There is considerable debate about the government and its commitment to reforms. In June, 2001, the International Monetary Fund representative in Cambodia stated "that the donors generally recognize that Cambodia, more than many other countries, has shown a high level of commitment to reform." The 2001 increase in aid pledges by the consultative group reflects such underlying confidence.

With its great Angkor Wat complex, Cambodia has tremendous tourism potential. The 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States will adversely affect Cambodian tourism in the short term, but in the long term, its tourist industry will provide substantial revenues to the government, which can be used for both physical and human infrastructure improvements. This special resource is not seen in many other developing countries. The country is also fortunate to have a deep seaport at Sihanoukville, which is being upgraded. With its great Tonle Sap Lake and with little of its agricultural land currently irrigated, it has considerable potential for improvements in agriculture as well. Finally, Cambodia has a special "wild card" that has been ignored. A good portion of its current population are survivors of the Khmer Rouge tragedy and, thus, represent a special genre of individuals with unusual capacities for survival, perseverance, and flexibility. Such a special human resource base augurs well for the economic future of Cambodia.

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