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Cambodia’s Market Opportunities for Finnish Companies

business environment
Embassy of Finland

Thailand

+66 220 787 00
sanomat.BAN@formin.fi
The Kingdom of Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia sharing land borders with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The capital is the city of Phnom Penh. Cambodia has a population of 15 million people located on a land mass that is the size of about half of Finland. The key sectors of interest form the Finnish point of view are Energy, Telecom, Education and Health Care. These are traditionally the sectors where the offering from the Finnish companies has a good match in South East Asia.


The Kingdom of Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia sharing land borders with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. The capital is the city of Phnom Penh. Cambodia has a population of 15 million people located on a land mass that is the size of about half of Finland. Spoken language is predominantly Khmer. Buddhism is the official state religion.

Cambodia is one of the poorest countries of South East Asia. The United Nations classifies Cambodia as a “least developed country” which opens Cambodia based development projects for different kind of international funding instruments. The average annual income in Cambodia is less than 4000€. The GDP growth has been enormous during the last decades averaging at 7% per year, although slowing down a bit during the last five years, and of course halting at 2019 due to the global pandemics. 

Cambodia’s economy is based on agriculture and manufacturing. The garment industry accounts for 80% of Cambodia’s exports. The rest is mainly agricultural products such as rice, fruits and fish. Pre-pandemic, tourism was Cambodia's fastest growing industry employing as much as 25% of the workforce.  

The key sectors of interest form the Finnish point of view are Energy, Telecom, Education and Health Care. These are traditionally the sectors where the offering from the Finnish companies has a good match in South East Asia. 

In 2019, the Cambodian government published the Cambodia Basic Energy Plan. According to the plan, the electricity generation capacity of Cambodia should increase from the current 2500 MW up to 5000 - 7000 MW by 2030. Cambodia’s three main sources of electricity are hydropower, coal and diesel. Renewable energy sources constitute a minority, and only recently Cambodia announced a new 265 MW coal power plant project to be built in 2021-2022. Cambodia’s basic energy plan takes the renewable energy sources into consideration, and sees it as a field where foreign investments would play a significant role.

Internet penetration in Cambodia is close to 100% and, just like in other South East Asian countries, there are more registered cell phone subscriptions than there are people. Telecom market has six major players: Cellcard, Smart Axiata, Metfone, Seatel, Cootel, and QB. 

The constitution of Cambodia guarantees the right to free basic education, which is compulsory for nine years. The governance of Cambodia’s education system is divided into three levels of government: central, provincial, and district. Currently there are about 13 000 public schools in Cambodia with more than 3 million pupils. As an addition there is also more than 1000 private schools with about 200 000 students. Most private schools are located in Phnom Penh.  There are about 40 public and 60 privately held higher education institutions in Cambodia with over 250 000 students listed in various programs. The quality of the public sector education is subpar compared to the more wealthy countries in the region. Private sector has a wider range of quality. 

Cambodia has a mixed healthcare system relying on public and private health providers. The private sector is mainly concentrated in urban and economically advantaged areas. There are around 10 000 private health care providers or facilities in Cambodia, accounting for the majority share of total health care spending. Just like in the neighboring countries, Cambodia’s population is ageing rapidly. Over 1.2 million Cambodians are aged over 60. By 2050, the number of people 60-year-old and older is expected to be over 3.5 million.

Written by Kimmo Pekari, Special Advisor, Trade and Economic Affairs, Embassy of Finland, Thailand