Concluding a four-day mission to Cambodia, a group of Japanese government officials and business leaders said in Phnom Penh July 20 that they believe Cambodia to be an appropriate place for Japanese private investment.
One CEO also announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the government for a biofuel concession that could mean up to $800 million in Japanese investment.
The 30 business owners led by Japanese Deputy Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Yamamoto Kozo, met with officials including Prime Minister Hun Sen, Cabinet Minister Sok An and Finance Minister Keat Chhon, according to a statement released by the Japanese Embassy.
According to the statement, the mission was one of the outcomes of the Agreement for the Liberalization, Promotion and Protection of Investment between Japan and Cambodia, which was signed by Hun Sen and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month.
Kamata Michi Sada, chairman of the Kyushu Economic Federation, said that the agreement, in conjunction with Cambodia’s current political stability, would increase business and trade between Japan and Cambodia. He added that investors felt that there was a particularly high potential for investment in natural resources.
Hayashi Mitsuo, CEO of Biwako Bio-Laboratory Co, Ltd, told reporters that his firm has decided to invest $800 million in growing jatropha, which can be used to make bio-diesel, in Kompong Cham and Kompong Speu provinces.
He added that his company would also build a refinery in Cambodia and set up an office in Sihanoukville, moves that he claimed could mean 40,000 to 50,000 jobs for Cambodians.
The mission, however, also called on the government to improve the country’s infrastructure, particularly roads, electricity and the ports, said Kunitomo Hirotoshi, director of international communication for the Japanese economy ministry. He added that most Japanese investors were interested in mineral resources such as bauxite, oil and gas.
Speaking at the Council of Ministers July 20, Sok An said that he believed the mission would help spur interest from Japanese businesses but admitted that some obstacles to investment needed to be tackled.
“We have some challenges, and we must solve those challenges, such as land disputes and fighting corruption,” he said.