Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s busy capital, sits at the junction of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers. It was a hub for both the Khmer Empire and French colonialists. On its walkable riverfront, lined with parks, restaurants and bars, is the ornate Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and the National Museum, displaying artifacts from around the country. At the city’s heart is massive, art deco Central Market.
Phnom Penh, in 2015, was second only to Laos in Southeast Asia for the fastest rate of urban spatial extension, as indicated by the World Bank.
An average growth rate of around 7.1 percent year-on-year for Cambodia has triggered an economic boom in Phnom Penh, and the city now offers all you would expect from an Asian metropolis. From expansive shopping centers, malls, skyscrapers and five-star hotels, to a variety of eateries and karaoke options, and a vibrant nightlife; Phnom Penh is drawing guests and tourists from all around the globe.
With an extravagant modern buildings across Phnom Penh are changing the capital into a playground for a new generation of Khmers in the emerging middle class, international investors and local elite. In 2016, the World Bank has officially revised the status of Cambodia’s economy, moving it up a rung from the low-income bracket into lower-middle income.
The main economy of Phnom Penh is based on commercial interests such as textile, trading, and small and medium enterprises (SME).
While the CBD of the city is home to a host of banks and trading ventures – the outskirts of Phnom Penh, spilling over into Kandal province, is defined by huge zones of manufacturing factories and other industry. These low-skill sectors, along with agriculture, have remained Cambodia’s primary growth engine since the country reformed after the war.
In 2015, primary industries of garment and footwear production contributed to 26.1 percent of the total economy of Cambodia. Agriculture contributed 29 percent and service sector made up 39.4 percent of the economy. The main agricultural export products include rice, rubber, maize, cassava and palm oil.
Secondary industries make up around 22 percent and tertiary industries represent 38 percent of the total economy. Amongst the tertiary industries, tourism-related activities are the most valuable to the sustained growth of the Cambodian economy.
Since 2012 the property business has been booming too, with rapidly increasing real estate prices across the capital of Phnom Penh. The boom in construction throughout Phnom Penh has naturally fed into the real estate sphere, where new development offerings targeting almost all economic strata’s of society come online daily.
Tourism is also a major contributor to Phnom Penh’s economy as more shopping centers and attractions open, making Phnom Penh one of the major tourist destinations in the country along with Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.
One factor influencing the continuous economic growth of both Phnom Penh and greater Cambodia is that it is an attractive environment for foreign investment. In 2015, Cambodia received over $4 billion dollars in foreign direct investment (FDI) and has an expatriate population of over 77,000 most of which reside in Phnom Penh.
With Cambodia’s integration into ASEAN, Phnom Penh is particularly well located, surrounded by robust regional economies that are increasingly outsourcing manufacturing operations to the Kingdom.
Cambodians are also more and more connected to the global community through access to technology via high mobile phone penetration, with Phnom Penh being the epicenter of this evolution. In 2015, Cambodia had over 5 million internet users, which represents one third of the current population.
Since 2010, foreigners have also been allowed to own apartments and condominium units in Cambodia – but not land, and, accordingly, not the first floor of buildings. Immediately after the passing of the law, tax revenues from property transactions rose 60% to around $19.5 million in 2010, from just $12.2 million in 2009. Learn more about land titles in Cambodia…
This foreign ownership law has aided Phnom Penh’s growth hugely, and a range of properties being built are directly aimed at this foreign ownership market.