Shoichi Nakagawa, head of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, held talks with Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh at the ministry Wednesday.
The closed-door session was aimed at increasing both Japanese investment in the country and Cambodian exports to Japan, said Commerce Ministry Secretary of State Sok Siphana after the meeting. The two officials kept things on a macro-level, Sok Siphana said, not discussing specifics on how to attract Japanese investment or what products Cambodia could export. But ministry officials were “very happy” with the talks.
“This opens the door for Japanese businesses to invest in the country,” Sok Siphana said.
The meeting stemmed from an Asean-Japan summit last month in Tokyo attended by Prime Minister Hun Sen. Ministry statistics show that Cambodia exported nearly $19 million worth of goods to Japan in 2002—more than it exported to China, Hong Kong and South Korea combined. Most of the exports were footwear and garments.
Though Japan is Cambodia’s largest donor and Japanese comprise the bulk of tourists to Cambodia, the government has had a tough time attracting Japanese investment. The Cambodian Investment Board listed no Japanese investment projects last year and just one in 2002.
Sok Siphana said there were various reasons that Japanese companies have stayed away from Cambodia, mostly because Japan already has existing investments in other Asean countries. “We are exploring how to bring more of those Japanese companies into Cambodia,” he said.
Nakagawa visited Hun Sen Wednesday morning and then met with King Norodom Sihanouk at the Royal Palace.
After holding the talks with Cham Prasidh, the Japanese minister was scheduled to visit a pre-school and then tour the National Museum.
He is scheduled to visit Angkor Wat today before flying to Bangkok.