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Cambodia Mulls ‘Diversified’ Export Markets

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday said Cambodia should consider exports to East Asia, Africa and the Middle East to dampen the impact of the global financial crisis.

“We must diversify the market of the textiles industry and factories,” he told an economic outlook conference in Phnom Penh.

Cambodia’s garment, agriculture and silk markets are mainly the US and Europe, but demand has fallen sharply there in the wake of the crisis.

Delegations from the Middle Eastern countries of Kuwait and Qatar have expressed interest in Cambodia’s agricultural products.

His comments come on the heels of government figures estimating Cambodia’s exports have dropped in half, from about $200 million per month. The International Labor Organization estimates around 50,000 jobs have been lost in Cambodia due to the global economic crisis.

Hun Sen noted the impact of the global economic crisis on Cambodia’s economy, decreasing its economic growth from around 10 percent in previous years to 7 percent in 2008. That growth rate is expected to decline in 2009, he said.

However, a recent International Monetary Fund mission estimated Cambodia’s economy could shrink in 2009.