Officials Say Stability Makes Investment Conference Possible

Tanks rolling through the streets, sporadic gunfire and executions generally don’t impress investors who are considering expanding into a developing country.

The factional fighting in Cam­bodia in July 1997 which firmly put the CPP into power effectively frightened off many private investors to the country.

Until now.

Nearly three years later, US investors are giving the country another look, as evidenced by the interest they’ve shown in the upcoming Cambodia Investment 2000 conference scheduled for today and Friday.

The Ministry of Commerce says more than 220 investors and interested parties have signed up for the conference, which will include speeches from top level government officials and other business experts, as well as workshops examining multiple sectors of Cambodian business.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who was ousted in the 1997 fighting, are among those expected to speak.

And international powerhouses like Citibank and Lockheed Martin are expected to attend. Both have already in­vested in Vietnam.

From banking laws to agricultural business, participants will be introduced to all the stren­gths—and weaknesses—of Cambodia’s economy.

Participants in the US-Asean Business Council-spon­sored conference say it would not have been possible one or two years ago, due to political instability and the Asian economic crisis. Now, they say, the time is right for investors to return, starting with the conference.

“This is absolutely an indicator of a vastly improved situation,” said Carol Rodley, a counselor for the US embassy.

She and two other embassy officials will discuss the improving business atmosphere in Cambodia.

Investors, she said, will be “taking a look around” Cambodia and making preliminary assessments of business potential.

The conference will also allow business representatives to meet new contacts, both in and out of Cambodia.

Kit Meng, head of Cambodia’s powerful Royal Group, said he expected to meet investors and share ideas.

Investors will hear from the government about the business climate in Cambodia.

Hun Sen’s address will focus on “Cambodia as an investment destination.”

The agenda includes workshops on infrastructure, banking, domestic trade, tourism, manufacturing, agribusiness, energy, law and accounting.

At the end of the conference, a report will be prepared by the conference sponsors and issued to the government.

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