The road ahead is long and lonely for Cambodia, with Chinese largess checked by the pandemic and Western interests soured by pre-pandemic crackdowns.
Cambodia has raced ahead in opening-up after fully vaccinating about 80 percent of its population, with Prime Minister Hun Sen declaring he was confident that “we won’t have another outbreak” of COVID-19.
It was a bold prediction amid the economic concerns of the business elites, who control much of the formal economy in the one-party state, and are pining to refill their coffers.
Foreign investment has collapsed to not much and the pandemic to date is expected to cost about 6 million jobs in the informal economy, which analysts say accounts for about 80 percent of the country’s GDP, drawn from a population of 16.5 million people.
The elites would like to see Cambodia return to the heady days of pre-pandemic life, with rampant Chinese investment and a return of the 6.6 million tourists who came in 2019 to bolster their dwindling bank accounts. But that’s not going to happen.
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