PHNOM PENH, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Cambodia's economy enjoyed robust growth last year, driven by garment exports, construction and tourism, said a National Bank of Cambodia's statement on Thursday.
"The economic growth for 2018 is expected at 7.3 percent, which is a high rate if compared with the growth rate in the last six years, and is higher than the average growth rate in developing countries," the statement said.
Garment exports, construction and tourism had seen two-digit growth last year, it said, adding that garment export was estimated to increase by 24.7 percent and tourism was expected to grew by 11.5 percent, with some 6.2 million international tourists visiting to the kingdom.
The statement said foreign direct investment flow to the Southeast Asian country rose by 12 percent last year, mainly focusing on banking, real estate and construction, and garment sector.
It said the inflation moderated to 2.5 percent last year from 2.9 percent in a year before, while the riel against the U.S. dollar remained stable at an average exchange rate of 4,050 riel for 1 U.S. dollar.
For 2019, the statement said the growth is projected at around 7 percent and the inflation is forecast to go up slightly to 2.6 percent.
The statement underlined that the uncertainty of the preferential tariff system granted to Cambodia by the European Union could pose a downside risk to the growth in coming years.
The EU announced in Oct. 2018 that Cambodia could lose its special trade access to European markets under the Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trade scheme, citing concerns over human rights and labor rights in the country.
According to the statement, the EU would take at least 18 months to decide whether to withdraw the EBA preferences for Cambodia or not.
EU is a major trading partner for Cambodia, especially for the apparel and footwear sector. The kingdom's export to EU was valued at about 5.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, according to an EU data.