Top Story of the Week: Obama Visit Would Boost US Regional Influence: Analysts
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Army dismisses reports of Thai-Cambodia military clash, Pattaya Daily News, Jan. 26
The Royal Thai Army on Wednesday dismissed reports of a renewed clash between Thai and Cambodian soldiers at Ta Kwai Temple, but conceded that one soldier was wounded in a gunshot accident.
Thai army spokesman Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd stood firm that there was no military clash at the Surin province bordering Cambodia.
Col Sansern said the Second Army Region Command reported that the wounded soldier was Cpl Veerawat Pairoh, accidentally shot in the leg while on patrol along the border as another soldier fell and accidentally shot him with his 9mm pistol. The wounded man was sent to hospital.
In the wake of recent developments related to the border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand, Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa said on Monday that Indonesia would continue the long-delayed plan to send an Indonesian observer team to the border.
“I can confirm this thanks to the positive outcome of discussions between the Thai and Cambodian governments,” Marty told the Jakarta Globe. “Both countries reaffirmed their wish to have an Indonesian observer team in the 4.6-square kilometer provisional demilitarized zone as a follow up to the International Court of Justice ruling,” he added, referring to the disputed area surrounding the centuries-old Preah Vihear temple, to which both countries have claims.
The International Court of Justice defined in its July verdict a provisional demilitarized zone from which both countries must withdraw military personnel.
Thailand import ban on rice slows trade with Cambodia, The Phnom Penh Post, Jan.25
Cambodia's total exports to Thailand decreased by more than 20 per cent year-on-year through November, the effect of a Thai ban on paddy imports from the Kingdom, officials said.
Exports to Cambodia’s western neighbour fell to US$159 million in the first 11 months of 2011, down from about $200 million during the same period the year before, data from the Royal Thai Embassy in Phnom Penh showed. Bilateral trade, however, increased by 10 per cent, hitting $2.59 billion in 2011 through November.
Defense & Security
Prime Minister Hun Sen met with senior diplomats on Tuesday, reminding them that Cambodia will remain neutral in regional conflicts, including those in the South China Sea and on the Korean peninsula.
Cambodia is the head of Asean this year, and as such, “plays a role as coordinator in various conflict in the region, but not to side with one side or the other,” Hun Sen told reporters after meeting 26 ambassadors and eight consuls, according to a spokesman.
South Korea is willing to invest in oil and gas industry in Cambodia, said a senior Korean official on Thursday.
"Korea is interested in investing in oil and gas and energy sector in Cambodia," Jae Hyun Shin, South Korea's visiting ambassador in charge of energy and mineral resources cooperation, said during a meeting with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Nestled between Vietnam and Thailand is Cambodia, a poor country with a basket of largely untapped resources that include gold. Within the past decade the surge of interest in the country’s mining prospects has been met with positive response from the Royal Government. For Cambodia, the mining sector may be a key to economic growth, meanwhile for investors, there may be attractive possibilities, however, there is also common use of the term “high risk.”
That Cambodia has gold is one of the few things of which investors can be certain. The solid history of artisianal gold mining bears proof, as do the exploration efforts that are currently underway.Financial Services
Cambodia's diplomats should use their posts to seek out further investments in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday told a closed-door meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to an official who was present.
The premier encouraged a gathering of ambassadors and consuls-general to maintain Cambodia’s already strong relationships with the US and European Union, while also promoting trade and investment in Southeast Asia, East Asia and the Middle East, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong, who was at the meeting, said.
“They have to be pushing for every kind of investment, both on a large and a small scale,” he said, adding that the Middle East could become a destination for Cambodian rice.
Predictions for CSX start date, The Phnom Penh Post, Jan. 18
The Cambodia Securities Exchange may launch as soon as March or April, according to an official at the Korea Exchange, the Kingdom’s partner in launching its stock market.
Final preparations for the CSX’s initial public offerings should be complete at that time, Pat Gil-soo, senior vice-president for global business development, said yesterday. “I hope to visit [Phnom Penh] again in late March or early April for the opening ceremony,” he said.
Food & Agriculture
Food costs expose gap in country’s production, The Phnom Penh Post, Jan. 26
Despite a 67 per cent drop in food imports to Cambodia in 2011, inflation in exporting countries drove an 18 per cent rise in the total value of the imports.
Food imports fell from 769,993 tonnes in 2010 to 254,080 in 2011, while the total value of imports increased to US$158 million from $134 million, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.
Some of Cambodia’s biggest exporters have experienced a sizeable decline in milled-rice shipments this month, with one insider putting the number as high as 40 per cent year-on-year.
The waning figure stands in stark contrast to last year’s milled-rice export numbers, which increased about 22 per cent year-on-year in 2011, according to Ministry of Commerce data.
Prices for premium milled rice in Pakistan, India and Vietnam had fallen far below Cambodian prices this month, Mega Green Imex Cambodia managing director Outh Renne said.
Foreign joint venture eyes banana farming in Koh Kong province, The Phnom Penh Post, Jan. 25
A Japanese firm and an Australian company planned to invest more than US$35 million in a banana plantation, a factory and a port in Koh Kong province, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said yesterday.
Australia-based Indochina Gateway Capital and Japan’s Sumifru Corporation would jointly invest in banana cultivation in the province’s Thma Baing district, MAFF plann-ing office director Por Ratana said.
Beer makers binge on ads, The Phnom Penh Post, Jan. 17
Beer advertising surged 164 per cent year-on-year in 2011, according to data from Indochina Research Ltd, making it one of the fastest-growing areas in Cambodian advertising. Beer companies spent more than US$5 million on advertising in Cambodia in 2011, $1 million more than ads for cars or food products – and insiders say the beer ad figure is set to continue to increase this year.
In 2011 there were also some of Cambodia’s biggest TV advertising campaigns, attempts from the increasing number of market contenders to brand their brews.
Cebu Pacific will be mounting flights to Siem Reap, Cambodia by April 19, making it the first to do so after local airlines were granted rights to shuttle passengers into the Southeast Asian neighbor.“[The flights] will be a thrice weekly service, utilizing one of Asia’s youngest aircraft fleets,” Cebu Pacific said in a statement yesterday.
About 300 Cambodians working at the U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal will not be paid this month — and some have worked without pay since October — because funds from donor countries have dried up, a tribunal spokesman said Thursday.
International staff are paid by the United Nations and will continue to receive salaries. The salaries of local staff, however, are funded by contributions from donor countries, said Huy Vannak, a tribunal spokesman.
The United Nations will send its investigating judge to resume work at the Khmer Rouge war crimes tribunal in Cambodia, despite moves by the government to have him replaced, a top envoy said Wednesday.
Cambodia had no authority to block Swiss Laurent Kasper-Ansermet from taking up the post under a 2003 agreement between the government and the United Nations, said David Scheffer, special expert on U.N. assistance to the Khmer Rouge trials.
Political analysts say a visit to Cambodia by US President Barack Obama would greatly boost US influence here, where China holds much sway.
A US official said this week that Obama could participate in an Asean summit to be hosted in Cambodia in November.
The president and other US officials say they want to improve the US position in the Asia-Pacific region.
Surprises Unlikely as Senate Election Approaches, VOA, Jan. 5
Senate elections will be held on Jan. 29, but election monitors say the vote will hold no surprises, because the system is set up so that only two parties, the ruling and main opposition, will win votes.
About 13,000 political officials of the Cambodian People’s and Sam Rainsy parties will vote in the election. The outcome is more or less known, since the CPP has 8,000 voters and the SRP has 3,000.
Millions of tourists come here every year to visit the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, an influx that has helped transform what once resembled a small, laid-back village into a thriving and cosmopolitan town with thumping nightlife and more than 10,000 hotel rooms.
But the explosion of the tourism industry here has also done something less predictable. Siem Reap, which had no universities a decade ago, is now Cambodia’s second-largest hub for higher education, after the capital, Phnom Penh.