Cambodia’s strategy to retain and attract investors in its ASEAN environment

An insight view from His Excellency Sok Chenda Sophea on how to attract foreign investors to Cambodia.
Sok-Chenda- Sophea-blog

This article captured some keynotes from His Excellency Mr. Sok Chenda Sophea’s speech at the Webinar Italy and Cambodia: discover the opportunities of business collaboration between the two countries.”, organized by EuroCham Cambodia in partnership with Italy-Asean Association and ICBA. His Excellency. Mr. Sok Chenda Sophea is the Secretary-General of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) and a Vice-Chairman of the Supreme National Economic Council. He previously held the Under Secretary of the State of the Ministry of Tourism from 1993 to 1997.

The strategy used for the development of Cambodia after the war

Cambodia and Cambodians experienced a troubled past until 1991 because of the civil war. After the Paris Peace agreement of 1991 and after the first government establishment in 1993, we realized that we have to invite the private sector and bilateral donors from the international community to join it to rebuild the country.

What makes Cambodia an attractive place for foreign investors

According to international institutions such as the World Bank, Cambodia has achieved remarkable social and economic growth over the last two decades. Cambodia never had a double-digit inflation rate except for one or two years of the financial crisis in the region. Investors should choose Cambodia because of its political stability, steady growth, macroeconomic stability, young labor force, and open economy.

Previously, investors overlooked Cambodia as a country with a small market of 16 million consumers. I am afraid that is not right. Instead, think of  Cambodia as part of the Mekong region with 250 million consumers, all of them being emerging markets with high annual GDP growth. Even better, think of Cambodia as a member of ASEAN with 650 million consumers.

Critical elements to attract foreign investors following the approval of the  Law on Investment by the Cambodian Government.

  • First of all, the Law applies both to nationals and foreigners. A foreign businessman or investor in Cambodia will enjoy the same rights as any Cambodian businessman or investor. The only exception is land ownership. If the foreign investor has set up a firm with Cambodians where the Cambodian counterpart owns 51% of the shares, the firm can own the land.
  • All sectors and industries, such as banking, agriculture, and telecom,  are open to foreign investors and allow them to invest 100% of their capital without having a local partner. There is no requirement to have a local participant.
  • Businessmen and investors will be able if they wish to, to send their money back to their home country or send the money out of Cambodia. There is no capital control when the investor brings it in, and there is no capital control when the investor wishes to send the money out.

Why is ASEAN is critical for the future development of Cambodia.

We are working hard to make the concept of AEC – ASEAN Economic Community a reality. We wish our region, composed of 10 countries, to be a single market within which goods traveling from one country to another will not be subject to tariffs and that the free movement of goods is ensured! We want to have the ASEAN region considered by foreign investors as a single production base. We would like investors to look at us as part of that region. Coming to the Kingdom, investors will discover opportunities that they would never imagine before visiting.

🎥 To watch His Excellency  Sok Chenda Sophea’s speech on streaming, click here.

📷 EuroCham Cambodia

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