Japanese Warm To Idea of Investing in Cambodia

Concluding a four-day mission to Cambodia, a group of Japanese government officials and business leaders said in Phnom Penh Friday 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 Friday, 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.

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