Ethnic Chinese businessmen were busy exchanging business cards and networking at the Hotel Sofitel Cambodiana on Wednesday night—a happy sign for Cambodian officials concerned about falling foreign investment.
The investors gathered to open the China Hong Kong and Macau Business Association, an organization of at least 50 companies from Hong Kong and Macau with offices in Phnom Penh.
Sok Chenda, the secretary-general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, said the organization and potential Chinese investment was important to Cambodia’s future.
“It means there is a trend that more are coming,” he said. “They have hope for the future.”
Approved investment projects from Hong Kong totaled $72 million last year, an increase of more than 300 percent from the previous year, while Macau investors contributed $749,000 to the Cambodian economy, according to CDC statistics.
Despite the increases, Sok Chenda said total foreign investment was down in 1997 and may drop lower in 1998 as investors stay away.
Association leader Yum Sui Sang, director of the Union Commerical Bank, said the organization will provide advice and information about business, the law, new investments and labor disputes.
and information to new investors and .
The Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh was directly involved in creating this business association. Embassy officials asked Union Commercial Bank director Yum Sui Sang to create and head the organization at a Chinese New Year celebration two months ago, Yum said.
Because the majority of its members own garment factories, Yum said finding ways to deal with labor problems will also be an important issue.