Aiming to reveal some business figures and the government’s strategy for investment in the country, Club of Cambodian Journalists with support from Konrad Adenauer Foundation organized a roundtable discussion on 27 February, 2008. H.E Sok Chenda Sophea, Secretary General of the Council for Development of Cambodia (CDC) and Personal Advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen, was invited to be the honorable speaker. The discussion provided a unique opportunity to journalists to be aware of Cambodia’s current and future investment and economy potentiality. The discussion was joined by some 60 journalists working for both local and international media organizations.
Speaking in his welcoming remark, Mr. Wolfgang Meyer, Head of Mission of KAF-Cambodia, said while the world is becoming the global market there have not yet been many investors from the European countries, particularly Germany, coming to make business in Cambodia. Mr. Meyer asked Cambodia to carefully think of informal payment which is part of a business scandal as German companies used to meet in some nations in Africa and Asia. Due to such informal payment, he said, German investors are hesitating to invest. However, Mr. Meyer recognized that business in Cambodia is booming.
In 2006, he said, there was an Exhibition on the Cambodian Art of Angkor in Germany part of good relationship between Cambodia and Germany.
During the discussion, H.E Sok Chenda pointed out the potential business environment and its weakness in Cambodia. He said three main sectors Construction, Tourism, and Garment are supporting the growth of investment and economy with the increasing GDP. The government, he said, is trying its best to get annual income from other sectors such as agriculture, agro-industry, and mines.
During the last 10 years between 1994 and 2003, the total of investment was 25% from the local companies, 15% from Western, and 60% was from Asia. After 2003, he said, diversification has become the government’s strategy to attract more investment from different countries with different enterprises. Sok Chenda also indicated that in 2006, Korea was the first rank while China was the second, and Russia was the third for foreign investment and in 2007 China became the first while Korea became the third and Thailand was second.
Even though there are many positive points for the country’s economy and investment, he said high price of oil and electricity, and small market for the local farmer’s agricultural products – are challenging with business and investment. That is why, the government is investing in hydro-power with foreign companies in the country and helping to find market for the farmers. He said that as 85% of the Cambodians is living in the rural area, the government tries to develop and invest in the countryside so that villagers do not need to migrate from their villages to the cities for jobs. He is proud and believing that as the country has complete peace, security, and social infrastructure improvement, the country’s investment and economy still keep moving forward at the same time when the government is establishing several special economic zones throughout the nation.
Though he did not want to predict the future investment, he said oil is one of the most potential investments in Cambodia. However, he said, exploring and studying are being carefully done.
Phnom Penh, 28 February, 2008