Cambodia Looks to Entice Investors From Singapore

Cabinet Minister Sok An and Prince Norodom Sirivudh are scheduled to attend a forum today in Singapore to showcase Cambodia as an investment destination, officials said.

Representatives of the American Cambodian Business Council and the Cambodia Development Resource Institute were to join the pair at the first Cambodia Forum, an annual trade event.

“Singapore wants to send more investors in Cambodia, but before that they need to know more about what is going on in Cambodia,” said Cheang Vannarith, executive director for the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, an organization founded by Prince Sirivudh that helped organize the event alongside the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

According to data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia, Singapore went from being the seventh largest investor in Cambodia in 2008 to the second largest investor behind China last year.

Mr Vannarith said the three main areas of interest from Singaporean firms would be in agro-processing, financial services and tourism, all areas where Singapore’s own economy has profited.

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the Cambodian government is making efforts to bolster regional partnerships in both trade and investment–part of the reason Cambodia was one of the only countries in the region to enter a recession last year was due its heightened reliance on economies in Europe and the US.

Next month, Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is to make a two-day official visit to Cambodia.

Syed Farizal, first secretary at the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh, said the premier’s visit to Cambodia on May 10 would provide an opportunity to learn more about what role Malaysia can play in Cambodia.

“This is a time of new information,” said Mr Farizal. “In our substance we are very interested in Cambodia.”

Bretton Sciaroni, senior partner at Sciaroni & Associates, said that Singapore has historically been a major player in Cambodia, but has the potential to increase its presence even further.

Singapore’s Asia Pacific Breweries–whose Cambodia Brewery Ltd produces Tiger Beer, Anchor, Gold Crown and ADC Stout in Kandal province–was the first firm to have a project approved in Cambodia under the 1994 investment law.

Singapore “[has] had major investments here in the past,” said Mr Sciaroni, who will be delivering a speech at today’s forum on Cambodia’s investment climate. “There has been good interest, and this will hopefully bring about more.”

Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi, who is also attending today’s event and will deliver a speech on Cambodia’s human resource capacity, said she aimed to convey the government’s measures to make Cambodia more investor friendly.

Current projects include the establishment of a national employment agency and the promotion of academic courses that are more tapered toward demand in the job market, she said.


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