The 6th Macroeconomic Conference on “Agriculture Sector in a Rapid Structural Transformation and Uncertain Global Trade Environment” will be hosted by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) here in Phnom Penh in December 2019.

Agricultural sector has been one of the main drivers of growth despite the rapid increase in the contribution of industry (namely garment) and services (particularly tourism and construction) to the economic growth during the last two decades, said NBC in an announcement.

According to the same source, a number of striking phenomena have emerged in the agricultural sector in recent years. Rural labour shortage, as well as lack of infrastructures (e.g. irrigation, storage, logistics and transport) in agriculture sector, is one, while the other is uncertain global agricultural trade preference scheme, such as the recently removed trade preference on rice export from Cambodia to Europe and the U.S.-China trade war. Studies touching on these issues provide food for throughs to the policymakers, think-tank as well as academia.

Rapid development of sectors such as garment, tourism and construction has absorbed large pool of low-skilled rural labour.

Latest data show that garment and footwear industry employs about 1 million workers the majority of whom are from rural areas. Outflow of rural labour to the neighbouring countries is also large. Approximately 1.1 million Cambodians (61 percent in Thailand) are currently staying abroad. Increase use of mechanisation services not only offsets, though not sufficiently fast, the decline in rural labour, but also improves agricultural productivity tackling the declining role of agriculture in the national output.

The cancellation of tariff-free scheme on Cambodia’s rice export to Europe may have implications on welfare of paddy rice farmers, investment of rice millers and logistics and transport agents, while U.S.-China trade war may create opportunity for attracting Chinese and U.S. investors in agriculture in Cambodia.

This year’s conference is intended to provide a forum for discussion about the declining role of agriculture sector in the national economy to researchers, academia and policymakers.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press

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