Diplomat Says Foreign Firms Key to Reform

After his farewell meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday morning, outgoing Canadian Ambassador Gordon Longmuir left a bit of advice: The clearest path to reform is welcoming foreign business.

“You can go a long way on development and assistance, but what really is needed here is investment,” Longmuir told reporters at the Council of Ministers building.

Cambodia took steps to follow that lead this week and became the second to last Asean country to join the Asean-Canada Econo­mic Cooperation Agree­ment, according to the Canadian Depart­­ment of Foreign Affairs.

The agreement, which now includes all Asean countries except Burma, recognizes Cam­bo­dia as a viable trade partner. It was signed in Singapore on Tuesday by the Cambodian and Canadian foreign ministers.

As he plans to retire in Van­couver, Longmuir said he will challenge Canadian companies to consider Cambodia, where he has served since 1995.

Just one Canadian company has set up shop here, he said, but if others are willing to take the risk, they should “come and see.”

He conceded that he would caution firms about a still-weak infrastructure, but also said “investment legislation is the most open in the region.”

Longmuir will depart Phnom Penh on Aug 7. His successor, Armond Mailhot, arrives at the end of August.

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