A comparative economic geography of Cambodia and the Lao PDR in the GMS

Dr. Edo Andriesse, Assistant Professor
Department of Geography, College of Social Sciences
Seoul National University, Republic of Korea

In the last two decades both Cambodia and Laos have tried to reap the benefits from exposure to economic globalisation. Cambodia now has a sizable garment industry, exporting to the USA, and Laos has welcomed foreign investors in agriculture, mining and hydropower. Nevertheless, rapid economic growth has not been accompanied with sufficient reductions in poverty levels. This working paper offers a comparative economic geographical perspective of marginality in the Greater Mekong Subregion and analyses the problematic development trajectories of Cambodia and Laos by looking at vulnerable economic phenomena, such as foreign direct investments, exports and international corridor development and repercussions, notably outmigration. The conclusion discusses the enormous challenges for both countries in embarking on a more inclusive and sustainable path of development in a squeezed economic geography. What are the opportunities in a marginalised economic setting in which Thailand, Vietnam and China can do most things much better?