|Top Story of the Week: US looks beyond garments to deepen Cambodia trade|
Cabinet Minister Sok An met Friday with a Thai delegation led by Suradet Jiratiticharoen, chairman of the Energy Committee of the Thai Senate, to discuss overlapping maritime claims. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Sok An said he advised the delegation of Cambodia’s position in finding a formula acceptable to both sides to start joint exploitation of oil and gas.
The Military Sealift Command's hospital ship, USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) arrived in Cambodia, July 28, to begin the final mission phase of Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12). This is the U.S. Pacific Fleet's seventh annual Pacific Partnership humanitarian and civic assistance (HCA) mission. Prior to arriving in Cambodia, Mercy and her PP12 embarked personnel visited the host nations of Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam. The four-and-a-half month mission supports strengthening regional partnerships and enhancing coordination efforts among organizations who share a common interest in maintaining stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region.
Cambodia’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are busily preparing for the ASEAN Economic Community’s free flow of goods in 2015 and are probably not that different from the other 10 ASEAN member states’ own SMEs.
About a three-hour drive from Phnom Penh is Ngov Heng Fish Sauce Factory, which is located in Kampot’s Ta Ang village. Ngov Heng Fish Sauce is well known throughout the country for producing tasty fish, soy and chili sauces and is one of those SMEs busy developing and enlarging its business.
The biggest US trade delegation to Cambodia in decades joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here as the two countries look to expand their economic relationship beyond exports of cheaply produced garments. Executives from Google, Goldman Sachs and MasterCard were among the cast of US multinationals that attended the US-Asean Business Forum in Siem Reap on July 13 following Mrs Clinton’s stops in Vietnam and Laos. “On the economic front, there is much more room for us to grow together, so we are working to foster economic activity in very tangible ways,” the secretary of state said at the US-Asean Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh.
China is the largest provider of financial assistance to Cambodia foragriculture and irrigation development in the last three years, Cambodia's Minister of FinanceKeat Chhon said on Tuesday. Since 2010 to date, he said, Cambodia has received a total loan of $561 million and a totalgrant of $22 million from South Korea, India, China, Japan and France.
Cambodia is mulling over a nuclear power option to feed its anemic energy sector, although private sector pundits called the rough plan a dream – a dangerous one at that. The government plans to use atomic energy in the future as oil, coal and biomass power sources were bound to be depleted, Suy Sem, Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy, told the National Assembly this week.
GE today announced the SOMA Group, a leading Cambodian industrial conglomerate, has selected GE's Waukesha gas engine technology to power a new rural, rice husk biomass-energy project. The project is Cambodia's first integrated biomass gasification-gas engine solution designed to supply renewable electricity to the local grid in support of the country's rural electrification goals.
Loans and deposits at Cambodia’s 32 commercial banks rose by more than 30 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively, year-on-year in the first half of 2012, which the central bank governor and economists said reflected the growth in economic activities even as export growth has slowed. According to official data from the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), outstanding loans rose 35 per cent to 443,000 borrowers over the first half of 2012, compared to 286,000 during the same period last year, while total deposits rose 15 per cent to 1,369,000 compared to 1,164,000.
In what he described as intensive “shuttle diplomacy” to restore ASEAN consensus on the South China Sea dispute, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa touched down in Phnom Penh yesterday following trips to Manila and Hanoi in the past 36 hours. Stopping off before heading to Singapore, Natalegawa met with Cambodia Foreign Minister and current ASEAN chair Hor Namhong to thrash out the details of a statement on the issue that polarised member countries and China during last week’s ASEAN Regional Forum in Phnom Penh.
Southeast Asian nations on Friday vowed to work towards a "code of conduct" in the disputed South China Sea, but failed to fully mend a rift that marred a regional meeting last week. Current chair Cambodia announced that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations had agreed on six principles on the sea, where tensions have flared recently with Vietnam and the Philippines accusing Beijing of increasingly aggressive behaviour.
Health & Life Sciences
The United States Navy Military Sealift Command's hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) docked at Cambodia's Sihanoukville Autonomous Port on Sunday in order to provide free medical, dental, veterinary, and engineering assistance to communities. The ship was greeted by Admiral Tea Vinh, Commander of Cambodian Navy, and Jeff Daigle, US Embassy Charg d'Affaires, as well as other Cambodian senior naval officials.
Dengue fever may soon meet its match: a new vaccine has been shown to perform well against three of the four known strains of the virus, Reuters reported. The innovation could have great impact in nations where the tropical fever is a serious public health concern. Dengue fever is spread by mosquitos and is colloquially known as "breakbone fever," due to the extreme pain some victims of the virus experience. A threat to nearly 3 billion people worldwide, it is particularly frustrating to treat because there are four different types of dengue virus.
Cambodia has soft launched its first national digital terrestrial pay-TV platform. The project, called One TV, is a joint venture between the Royal Group of Companies (Cambodia) and Russian operator General Satellite. General Satellite holds a 51% share of One TV and provides financial backing. Royal Group of Companies has transferred the licence and provided infrastructure for the project. According to Andrey Tkachenko, president of General Satellite, the partners are targeting 400,000 subscribers in Cambodia. The switch-off from analogue to digital broadcasting is due to be completed in Cambodia by 2015.
A regulator for Cambodia’s telecommunications industry is expected to launch next month with the hopes of putting in order a sector that has seen little regulation during its short history. Industry insiders have called the move positive but many questioned the body’s ability to rein in control without the backing of a telecommunications law. The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has high hopes for the Telecom Regulator of Cambodia (TRC). Officials said the body will be divested from the ministry and will look to tackle some of the industry’s biggest challenges.
A new Russian-Cambodian digital satellite television service plans to have 400,000 subscribers in the next two years with 60 channels in Khmer, English, Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese and other languages. The venture between Russia’s General Satellite and Cambodia’s Royal Group was soft-launched last night at Sofitel, with a planned start-up in September and a system using stored smart cards, descrambler boxes and antennas.
The Cambodian Broadcasting Service launched the Kingdom’s first 24-hour news channel, Cambodian News Channel, to great fanfare last night at its new studios. During the launch, Kith Meng, chairman of both Royal Group and the new channel, said this news channel would further the development of Cambodia. “We created this channel to help [the government] broadcast the progress and [the nation’s] development. We serve people who like news,” he said, adding that the initial US$15 million put into the station had beaten his estimate by some $9 million.
The Thai company set to build Laos’s Xayaburi hydropower dam will not begin construction until a study determines the dam’s environmental effects on the Mekong River, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Friday. Yingluck reaffirmed her commitment to the study, which Mekong River Commission countries Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam agreed in December to undertake before construction could begin. “We will study together the scope of the impact along the Mekong and we will see what the impact is,” Yingluck said after a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen in Siem Reap.
Before the big dinner with Hillary Clinton, Prime Minister Hun Sen and the leaders of Thailand and Myanmar on July 13 in Siem Reap, Tom Whitcraft of RMA Group, which owns the Ford dealership in Cambodia, sat down for an interview. Whitcraft said Ford has about 20 per cent of Cambodia’s new car market. It all started when his father Mark Whitcraft arrived in Thailand in 1958 as the regional sales manager forGoodyear Tire Company. Today RMA is a global giant representing brand names of vehicles, fleets and equipment for mining, agricultural equipment, as well as food franchises like Pizza Company, Dairy Queen and Swenson’s Ice Cream.
OtherCambodia as divide and rule pawn, Asia Times, July 18
The official theme for Cambodia's chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is "One Community, One Destiny" - but the outcomes of this year's meetings highlighted the bloc's growing divisions on the issue of China. Last week in the Cambodian capital, the Foreign Ministers' meeting came to an acrimonious end when delegates from the 10-member bloc failed to issue their customary joint communique - the first time they have failed to do so in ASEAN's 45-year history - after disagreements over the territorial disputes in the South China Sea.