Cambodia Update: Cambodian Opposition Leader Denied Bail

Cambodia Update | October 3, 2017
Authors: Jack Myint and Natalie McDaniel
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

October 4, Conference Call with H.E. William Heidt, Ambassador to Cambodia: Please join us for a conference call with The Hon. William Heidt. Ambassador Heidt will provide a brief update on recent political and economic developments in Cambodia and the future trajectory of US-Cambodia bilateral relations. Please contact Jack Myint at jmyint@usasean.org for more infomation and click here to register for the call.

Oct 12-13, ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting (Singapore): The Council is now registering executives for its 2017 business mission to the ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting. Please click here to register. For more information or questions, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Cambodian Opposition Leader Denied Bail

The Cambodian government has continued its hard stance on political dissent since Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha’s arrest and subsequent treason charge on September 5th. Accusations have emerged, both in the media and some government entities, that Kem Sokha had conspired with the United States to overthrow Prime Minister Hun Sen in a “color revolution” which has impacted the US-Cambodian relationship. In a public statement on September 12, U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia William Heidt first spoke of Kem Sokha’s arrest as being “made without a shred of serious or credible evidence”. He further went on to say that accusations which have emerged against the United States are “intentionally inaccurate, misleading and baseless” and “mischaracterizes what the U.S. is doing in Cambodia”. Against this backdrop, the U.S. government on September 13 imposed visa restrictions to B1/B2 holders from Cambodia. The action was taken in response to the Government of Cambodia not accepting, or delaying, the repatriation of its own citizens from the U.S. On September 13, the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia also issued a security message requesting American citizens to exercise caution amidst anti-American sentiment expressed by government officials. The timing of the announcement has led some to claim a direct correlation between the two developments as a reflection of waning bilateral political ties. On September 14, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen suspended cooperation with Washington to find the remains of American soldiers killed during the Vietnam war. He also said it would be “good to pull out the Peace Corps”. On Sept 15, PM Hun Sen said he had called for an investigation into the Americans that were involved in colluding with Kem Sokha in his attempt to overthrow the Cambodian government. On September 26, Cambodia’s appeals court rejected a request for the release on bail of Kem Sokha, and his lawyers boycotted the hearing when their demand that their client be allowed to attend was denied. Member companies should be advised of the growing risk resulting from the government’s continued anti-US/anti-Western rhetoric. There will continue to be a general push in the Cambodian government to promote trade, investment, technological innovation etc. However, government advocacy may be more difficult than usual until after the July 2018 general elections as Cambodian politicians and government officials may distance themselves from publicly engaging with U.S. firms.

H.E. Prak Sokhonn Speech at the United Nations General Assembly

On September 22, H.E. Prak Sokhonn, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Cambodia, spoke at the United Nations General Assembly (full speech avaliable here). He expressed great concern about the situation on the Korean Peninsula and called for all parties involved to exercise restraint and remain committed to mutual dialogue. He described climate change as a serious and unprecedented threat to global peace and security and reiterated Cambodia’s commitment to low carbon development. On the issue of human rights and in reference to recent developments, he maintained that Cambodia has no issue with monitoring efforts from international entities as long as it is performed in an impartial manner that takes all pertinent facts into account. He noted, however, that external powers and some large international non-governmental organizations’ lack political neutrality. Minister Prak Sokhonn asserted that Cambodia was acting as any other nation would when experiencing invasive interference from a foreign government and within the provisions stipulated under Cambodian law.

Cambodia Government Cautious About Genetically Modified Organisms in Agricultural Sector

The Cambodian government expressed ambivalent caution against the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into its agricultural sector. Facing allegations that GM plantings are being permitted in some local farms, Ministry of Agriculture’s undersecretary of state Hean Vanhan re-emphasized Cambodia’s commitment to GMO-free crops in compliance with market trends to avoid import restrictions on Cambodian agricultural products based on health and environmental concerns. The government however has no official ban on the import or cultivation of GM seeds but only upholds a loose “regulatory framework” following an international biosafety protocol in 2003, raising consumer fears about unofficial GM seed trade from Thailand, Vietnam, and China. Specialists suggest that the government provide extensive training on GMO and labelling criteria so that farmers can identify and be vigilant of potential GMO impact when they purchase seeds from traders. In the meantime, more Cambodian producers readily pledge compliance to industry guidelines and non-GMO use to satisfy international market demand.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
National Affairs
Cambodia's Hun Sen urges arrests of opposition 'rebels in the city'
After Attack on Westerners, Cambodia's Foreign Minister Softens Tone
Cambodian court rejects appeal to free opposition leader
Sokha may miss bail hearing due to ‘security concerns’
Cambodian Opposition Politicians Barred From Visiting Kem Sokha in Jail
Hun Sen Asks US Peace Corps to Pull Out of Cambodia
Cambodia opposition can be dissolved if it protects Kem Sokha: Hun Sen
Cambodia suspending US MIA searches over visa ban
Cambodia gets low marks in ‘human capital’ report
Breaking: RFA shuts down Cambodia operations amid media crackdown
As Cambodia crackdown gathers steam, opposition wonders, ‘Who’s next?’

Customs
Brands offered “unique opportunity” to engage with Cambodian government to help shape country's IP system
Discrepancies in Cambodian sand exports spark fraud allegations
Cambodia has sole objective for US
Cambodia lags Asean peers in eliminating tariffs
Cambodia, Thailand reach tax deal
Prayut visit bears fruit for Kingdom
Kingdom joins group fighting tax evasion

Economics
Experts Fear Economic Impact of Political Tensions in Cambodia
World Bank lauds finance management
Kingdom’s biggest SEZ to get even bigger
Trade with US normal, says ministry

Energy
Chinese-built biggest dam in Cambodia to start operation in November
$400m solar project launched
Russia, Cambodia ink nuclear cooperation deal
China, Cambodia agree to nuclear energy cooperation

Financial Services
Life insurance gallops ahead in Kingdom
Poor returns from an underperforming banking sector
Banks capitalise on Cambodia’s high mobile phone usage
Draft gaming law to be approved
Cambodia: Insurance premiums shoot up by 21% in 1H

Food & Agriculture
GroGenesis Inc. to host inaugural global distributor conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on accelerating GDP growth through agriculture
Inter-governmental effort needed for food safety
More investments and surveillance needed to curb misuse of antimicrobials: FAO
Vietnam looks to give fishery assistance to Cambodia
Chinese firm to help raise pigs in Cambodia
“The more we produce rice, the poorer and poorer we get”
RDB extends deadline for rice-storage bidding
Ministers of Agriculture in Mekong agree to step up the cooperation on boosting food safety
AgriTech accelerator for the Mekong region launched
GMS ministers endorse strategy to boost food safety in Mekong

Health & Life Sciences
AIA Cambodia launches ‘Health Report Card’ campaign
Alarm as 'super malaria' spreads
Cambodia and the Lao People's Democratic Republic wipe out trachoma
Plan to cut rabies fatalities by half
WHO tests new malaria therapy
Cambodia confirms outbreak of Trichinellosis in central Kampong Thom province

Infrastructure
One of Asia’s Fastest-Growing Cities Just Got a $1 Billion Plumbing Bill
Cambodia will cap cement plants at five

Thailand
Thai links set to boost trade with Cambodia

Vietnam
Hanoi, Phnom Penh urged to promote partnership
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
National Affairs

Cambodia's Hun Sen urges arrests of opposition 'rebels in the city' U.S. 2nd Oct 2017
Cambodia could make more arrests of people linked to a plot to overthrow the government, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday, attacking opposition figures as “rebels in the city” bent on staging a “color revolution”, despite past failures. The comment is part of the strongman’s widening crackdown on opposition politicians and independent media that critics and rights groups see as an effort to shore up his party’s strength ahead of a general election next year.

After Attack on Westerners, Cambodia's Foreign Minister Softens Tone VOA 30th Sep 2017
Cambodia's foreign minister has launched a scathing attack on Western democracies, labeling them hypocritical and interested in promoting human rights and democracy only when it's in their own interest. Foreign Minister Prak Sokhon told the U.N. General Assembly last week that human rights and democracy issues were raised only "when the specific interests of certain major powers are at stake."

Cambodian court rejects appeal to free opposition leader Bangkok Post 26th Sep 2017
A Cambodian court rejected an appeal to release opposition leader Kem Sokha on Tuesday and said he would not be granted bail as he awaits trial on treason charges. The arrest of Kem Sokha on Sept 3 came amid a crackdown on critics of authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who could face the biggest electoral challenge of more than three decades in power next year.

Sokha may miss bail hearing due to ‘security concerns’ Phnom Penh Post 25th Sep 2017
A hearing to determine the legality of opposition leader Kem Sokha’s pre-trial detention is scheduled to proceed on Tuesday, though it will likely take place without him in court due to “security concerns”, Prison Department officials confirmed yesterday. Chan Kimseng, the chief of the General Prisons Department, raised concerns about “the security and safety during transportation” in a letter last Monday. As of yesterday evening, department officials had not yet announced whether or not the opposition chief would be shepherded from his Tbong Khmum province prison cell to the capital.

Cambodian Opposition Politicians Barred From Visiting Kem Sokha in Jail Radio Free Asia 18th Sep 2017
Cambodian opposition party lawmakers were turned away from a prison in the country’s Tbong Khmum province on Monday following a failed second attempt to visit jailed CNRP leader Kem Sokha, who is being held on a charge of treason, sources said. The request to visit Kem Sokha was turned down by the investigating judge in the case, who said that only the party leader’s family members and lawyers may see him before his trial.

Hun Sen Asks US Peace Corps to Pull Out of Cambodia Radio Free Asia 15th Sep 2017
Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen called on the United States on Friday to withdraw its Peace Corps volunteers from his country a day after he said he was suspending cooperation with Washington to find the remains of Americans killed in the Vietnam War. "It's good if you pull out the Peace Corps," Hun Sen said as he stepped up his criticism of Washington at a gathering of 10,000 garment workers at Vattanac Industrial Park on the southwestern outskirts of Phnom Penh.

Cambodia opposition can be dissolved if it protects Kem Sokha: Hun Sen Channel NewsAsia 14th Sep 2017
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) risks a party dissolution if it continues to protect its jailed leader Kem Sokha, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday (Sep 11). Kem Sokha was charged with treason on Sep 3 for allegedly conspiring with a foreign power to destroy national security. Hun Sen mentioned the CNRP’s possible future during the graduation ceremony of University of Health Sciences medical students in the capital. Besides urging the new graduates to uphold medical ethics, the prime minister was also quoted by local media as saying Cambodia is lucky to have discovered Sokha’s “betrayal” and that the CNRP will be dissolved if it “continues to protect Sokha”. The opposition party’s dissolution, he added, will not affect Cambodia’s election process as there are still many other political parties which will stand for election.

Cambodia suspending US MIA searches over visa ban Miami Herald 14th Sep 2017
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday he will retaliate against a U.S. halt on the issuing of most visas to senior foreign ministry officials and their families by suspending missions by U.S. military-led teams searching for the remains of Americans missing in action from the Vietnam War.

Cambodia gets low marks in ‘human capital’ report Phnom Penh Post 14th Sep 2017
A recent report by the World Economic Forum underscored the Kingdom’s poor performance in educating and training its citizens in order to develop a competitive workforce and put their skills to productive use, ranking it for the first time in its annual review as the worst in Asean. Cambodia ranked 92nd out of 130 countries in terms of human capital development, up from 100 last year, showing that the country had improved globally but at the same time fell further behind its regional peers, according to the Global Human Capital Report 2017. The ranking puts Cambodia ahead of the Dominican Republic but behind Botswana, which ranked 93rd and 91st, respectively.

Breaking: RFA shuts down Cambodia operations amid media crackdown Phnom Penh Post 12th Sep 2017
United States-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia announced today it will close its Phnom Penh bureau and cease in-country operations citing a recent crackdown on independent media that has made it “impossible” to continue in the country. The announcement comes as RFA and fellow US-funded broadcaster Voice of America have seen their broadcasts severely curtailed after the closure of more than 30 radio frequencies that aired their shows across the country. Last month, they were also pulled up by the Finance Ministry for failing to pay taxes and for not being licensed news organisations. The independent English-language newspaper the Cambodia Daily was also recently forced to shutter over a tax dispute.

As Cambodia crackdown gathers steam, opposition wonders, ‘Who’s next?’ Washington Post 10th Sep 2017
The opposition leader is in jail charged with treason, senior party officials have fled abroad and fear is spreading through Cambodia’s civil society as a government crackdown intensifies ahead of national elections next year. The arrest of the president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Kem Sokha, in a raid of his home just after midnight on Sept. 2 sent shock waves through a country already on edge after attacks on nongovernmental organizations and the media. In recent weeks, Radio Free Asiaand Voice of Americahave been forced off the airwaves, an independent newspaper, the Cambodia Daily, was shuttered amid government pressure, and the U.S.-funded National Democratic Institute was expelled from the country.

Customs

Brands offered “unique opportunity” to engage with Cambodian government to help shape country's IP system World Trademark Review 28th Sep 2017
In an exclusive interview with World Trademark Review, Ainsley Jong, goodwill ambassador for the Cambodian Counter Counterfeit Committee (CCC), has called on international brands to engage with the Cambodian government to help shape the country’s brand protection environment. The invitation comes at a time of booming economic growth, with more companies expected to enter the market in the coming years. Cambodia has experienced a prolonged period of economic expansion, with growth of 6.8% expected this year and 6.9% in 2018. In terms of brand activity, however, Jong notes that “a lot of companies have not historically had an eye on Cambodia, perhaps because traditionally it was seen as a small developing market and therefore wasn’t on their radar. But Cambodia is now experiencing a lot of growth, with more investment expected – for example, through China’s ‘One Belt, One Road,’ initiative. So we are now seeing major brands start to tiptoe into Cambodia, particularly now the middle class is getting bigger”.

Discrepancies in Cambodian sand exports spark fraud allegations VOA 14th Sep 2017
An environmental group is highlighting discrepancies in Cambodian government data on exports of silica sand to Taiwan, in what the group's founder suggests may be a case of tax avoidance and economic fraud. Exports of another type of sand to Singapore were investigated after the same group exposed similar discrepancies in trade figures with that country last year. In a posting on its Facebook page late Monday, the group Mother Nature cited data from Taiwan's Customs Administration showing imports of 1.5 million tons of silica and quartz sand from Cambodia valued at more than $32 million between 2012 and 2016.

Cambodia has sole objective for US Phnom Penh Post 13th Sep 2017
Cambodia intends to submit a petition to the United States government to extend the duty-free privileges of its Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme to include footwear, giving local manufacturers a competitive advantage in the world’s biggest consumer market. But hopes are dimming as the submission deadline approaches and a bill proposing the exemption fails to make traction in the US Congress. The GSP Footwear Act of 2017, which was introduced to the US House of Representatives in May, proposes broadening the annual renewal of the GSP programme to include footwear for the first time since the trade privilege scheme was introduced in 1976. If passed, the act would allow certain footwear products from selected countries with Least Developed Country (LDC) status to enter the United States duty-free.

Cambodia lags Asean peers in eliminating tariffs Phnom Penh Post 12th Sep 2017
More than 96 percent of tariffs in Asean have been eliminated, but certain parts of the 10-nation economic bloc including Cambodia lag behind others in full implementation of the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (Atiga), the Ministry of Commerce said in a Facebook post yesterday.

System from Japan to standardise local ports Phnom Penh Post 8th Sep 2017
Japan's Nippon Automated Cargo and Port Consolidated System, a privatised company that provides online customs procedures for land and sea freight, is looking to provide its automated customs platform to Cambodia as part of an initiative to standardise procedures in Asean and facilitate Japanese business expansion in the region, according to a Japanese media report. The system, which has already cut import and export time in Vietnam and Myanmar, centralises processes such as quarantine inspections. Japan will provide the system for free after Prime Minister Hun Sen requested it from Japan’s Finance Ministry last month during a state visit.

Cambodia, Thailand reach tax deal Khmer Times 8th Sep 2017
Cambodia and Thailand yesterday agreed to seek more strategies to boost bilateral trade, cross border development and investment to achieve the target of $15 billion in trade exchange between the two Asean neighbours by 2020. Both countries also reached an agreement on double tax avoidance and preventing the declaration of fraudulent income to avoid tax at the Third Cambodia-Thailand Joint Cabinet Retreat at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.

Prayut visit bears fruit for Kingdom Phnom Penh Post 8th Sep 2017
Cambodia and Thailand agreed to open more border checkpoints, restart a long-delayed railway project and promote cooperation in trade and tourism yesterday. Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, made the announcement in a joint press conference at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh. Among other things, the two countries pledged to restart work on a long-delayed railway project to connect Phnom Penh and Bangkok that began in 2008, increase bilateral trade to $15 billion by 2020 (up from $5.6 billion in 2016), and open a drug-free “white zone” along the Cambodia-Thailand border.

Double tax agreement signed amid Thai visit Phnom Penh Post 8th Sep 2017
Cambodia and Thailand have officially signed a double taxation agreement (DTA) that protects each country’s nationals from dual taxation and aims to encourage bilateral investment and strengthen economic ties. Finance Minister Aun Porn Moniroth and Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai signed the agreement yesterday in the capital, in the presence of Prime Minister Hun Sen and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who is conducting a state visit. While full details of the DTA between the two countries have yet to be released, the agreement follows Cambodia’s aggressive push to shield investors from being onerously taxed twice on multinational operations, and to improve compliance with ASEAN standards.

Kingdom joins group fighting tax evasion Phnom Penh Post 8th Sep 2017
Cambodia has become the 144th member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, according to a press release. Greenland, Madagascar and Haiti also joined the Global Forum at the same time, bringing the total number of members to 146. The OECD platform strives to implement international standards for the exchange of tax and financial account information both automatically and upon request to fight international tax evasion and avoidance.

Economics

Experts Fear Economic Impact of Political Tensions in Cambodia VOA 19th Sep 2017
The closure of independent media, NGOs and the arrest of Cambodia’s opposition leader, Kem Sokha, in recent weeks, has raised concerns that the country’s economy could suffer repercussions. Economists, shopkeepers and political analysts who spoke to VOA Khmer this week said they were already noticing signs of a slowdown. Sou Chantha, a political scientist, said the situation in Cambodia was worse than in the lead-up to previous elections and was likely to affect tourism and the economy.

World Bank lauds finance management Khmer Times 15th Sep 2017
The World Bank (WB) has acknowledged that the Cambodia Public Finance Management (PFM) system has now been substantially strengthened, particularly at the central level, while it faced critical challenges including poorly designed budgetary systems and inadequate domestic revenue. Ellen Goldstein, the WB country director for Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos, said yesterday that the leveraging and experimenting with approaches for sustainability was the result of an international workshop held under the Public Financial Management Reform Program (PFMRP) that was introduced in 2005. Previously, budget formulation and execution was weak with an overwhelmingly cash-based PFM system that was in efficient, she said.

Kingdom’s biggest SEZ to get even bigger Phnom Penh Post 14th Sep 2017
The Kingdom’s biggest industrial park is moving beyond its initial development stage and looking to attract nearly 200 new tenants in the next five years as it doubles its footprint. Established in 2008, the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) sprawls over 1,100 hectares in the hills to the east of Sihanoukville and the Kingdom’s only deepsea port. Jointly developed and operated by Jiangsu Taihu Cambodia International Economic Cooperation Investment Co Ltd and the Cambodia International Investment Development Group Co Ltd (CIIDG), the industrial estate has become a platform for cooperation between China and Cambodia under Beijing’s One Belt, One Road initiative.

Trade with US normal, says ministry Khmer Times 14th Sep 2017
Despite a diplomatic row with the United States, the trade relationship between Cambodia and the US remains normal, said the Ministry of Commerce’s spokesperson yesterday. Soeng Sophary, told Khmer Times yesterday that the US, Europe and Canada were big markets for Cambodia’s garment and footwear products. “Although there seems to be some problems currently with the US, diplomacy at the end of the day will prevail and there’s mutual respect for it,” said Ms Sophary.

Energy

Chinese-built biggest dam in Cambodia to start operation in November China Daily 25th Sep 2017
The 400-megawatt Lower Sesan II Hydropower Plant, which is Cambodia's biggest hydropower dam so far, will start operation in November after almost four years of construction. Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Xiong Bo presided over a ceremony to close the dam's water gates on Monday. useholds.

Spotlight: Chinese-built biggest dam in Cambodia to start operation in November Xinhua 25th Sep 2017
The 400-megawatt Lower Sesan II Hydropower Plant, which is Cambodia's biggest hydropower dam so far, will start operation in November after almost four years of construction. Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Xiong Bo presided over a ceremony to close the dam's water gates on Monday. According to a report by Cambodian Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem, the plant has eight turbines and each turbine has installed capacity of 50 megawatts.

$400m solar project launched Khmer Times 19th Sep 2017
Global Purify Power (GPP), a joint venture behind $400 million worth of solar powered projects, started groundbreaking work on Friday with more than $10 million worth of investment in Kampong Speu province. It will be the first step for producing about 15 megawatts to supply the industrial zone. The GPP is a joint venture involving Cambodian, Thai and Laos investors, and has had a licence from the government to produce solar power since December 2015.

Russia, Cambodia ink nuclear cooperation deal Anadolu Agency 19th Sep 2017
Russia's Rosatom and Cambodia signed an intergovernmental cooperation agreement on nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in Vienna on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the 61st International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference, the Russian company announced. The agreement aims at bilateral cooperation between Russia and Cambodia in nuclear education and training, fundamental and applied research, and the use of irradiation technologies in manufacturing, medicine, agriculture and environmental protection, the company said.

China, Cambodia agree to nuclear energy cooperation World Nuclear News 14th Sep 2017
The agreement was signed yesterday by CNNC chief accountant Li Jize and Tekreth Samrach, Cambodia's secretary of state of the Office of the Council of Ministers and vice chairman of the Cambodian Commission on Sustainable Development. It was signed during the 14th China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, being held in Nanning, the capital of China's Guangxi province. The signing was witnessed by Cambodia's minister of commerce and other government officials, CNNC said.

Financial Services

Life insurance gallops ahead in Kingdom Phnom Penh Post 13th Sep 2017
Cambodia’s burgeoning insurance industry is accelerating at a healthy pace, and nowhere is this more visible than the life insurance market. Life insurance, which only entered the market five years ago, has experienced substantial growth with more than $1 billion of coverage issued in the first half of 2017, according to a recent report by the Insurance Association of Cambodia (IAC).

Poor returns from an underperforming banking sector Phnom Penh Post 12th Sep 2017
A recent report has found that the majority of Cambodia’s nearly 40 commercial banks lack the scale and efficiency required to generate a healthy return on investment for their shareholders, with many not even able to cover their own operating costs. Phnom Penh-based investment firm Mekong Strategic Partners (MSP) said in a performance review last month of Cambodia’s banking sector that despite an impressive run of revenue and profit growth, banks have made little headway in curbing expenses. It noted that while bank revenues have grown by an average of 22 percent a year during the past decade, and revenues by 19 percent a year, expenses have matched this level of growth and sapped the underlying profitability of banks.

Banks capitalise on Cambodia’s high mobile phone usage Phnom Penh Post 12th Sep 2017
Cambodia is changing from a quiet, tranquil country to a lively, tech-savvy nation. Walk down the streets of Phnom Penh and you’ll pass a host of millennial Cambodians gripping smartphones, beavering away on their social media accounts, shading their washed-out screens from the summer sun’s glare.

Draft gaming law to be approved Khmer Times 12th Sep 2017
Cambodia’s draft gaming law will be submitted to the cabinet for approval within this month to pave the way for the country to attract foreign investment in the booming gaming industry that also brings in large numbers of tourists to the kingdom, said a senior Finance Ministry official. “We got a lot of input for the draft law after many inter-ministerial and stakeholders’ meetings,” Ros Phearun, a deputy director-general of the Finance Ministry’s financial industry department, told Khmer Times on Monday.

Cambodia: Insurance premiums shoot up by 21% in 1H Asia Insurance Review 8th Sep 2017
Cambodia's insurance industry has enjoyed strong growth during the first half of this year, with total gross premiums reaching US$68 million, an increase of 21% compared with the same period in 2016, according to the Insurance Association of Cambodia (IAC).

Food & Agriculture

GroGenesis Inc. to host inaugural global distributor conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on accelerating GDP growth through agriculture Marketwired 29th Sep 2017
GroGenesis, Inc. (OTCQB: GROG) (the "company"), a global sustainable pioneer in AgriTech™ and producer of AgraBurstPRO™, an organic, non-GMO nano-surfactant and emulsifier for farmers, fertilizer manufacturers and commercial lawn and turf companies, announced today the Company will be hosting a two day Global Distributor Conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia at the Sofitel Phnom Penh October 5-6, 2017. Richard Kamolvathin, CEO of GroGenesis, will be presenting "Accelerating GDP Growth through Agriculture" to more than 150 attendees. Countries with agricultural sectors that make a significant contribution to GDP have the ability to increase their GDP growth rate by maximizing efficiencies and encouraging organic farming practices. With the increases in yield, farmers can earn the discretionary income to have a positive impact on a country's economy-at-large. AgraBurstPRO™ can become an integral part of farmers' farming practices to achieve this national goal.

Inter-governmental effort needed for food safety Khmer Times 25th Sep 2017
Khmer Times’ Sok Chan, recently spoke to Dr Watcharas Leelawath, executive director of Mekong Institute, on the harmonisation of food safety standards in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries.

More investments and surveillance needed to curb misuse of antimicrobials: FAO Far Eastern Agriculture 22nd Sep 2017
A stronger global effort, including larger investments and improved surveillance measures, is required to ensure responsible use of antimicrobials so that they do not threaten public health and food production, as stated by FAO at a UN General Assembly side event on antimicrobial resistance (AMR). “Good health, good productivity and good economies depend on safe and nutritious food. Prudent use of antimicrobials in public health and agriculture is essential to achieve this,” said Maria Helena Semedo, deputy director-general of FAO. “We need surveillance on antimicrobial use and the spread of AMR, not only through hospitals, but throughout the food chain, including horticulture and the environment for more comprehensive risk assessments,” Semedo added

Vietnam looks to give fishery assistance to Cambodia Phnom Penh Post 18th Sep 2017
Vietnam has expressed inter-est in investing in Cambodia’s aquaculture sector and providing technical support to help boost fisheries production, according to Vietnamese media reports. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vu Hong Nam said during a visit to Tonle Sap Lake late last week with the governor of Kampong Chhnang province that an official initiative for bilateral collaboration was in the works to help Cambodia promote economic development by using Vietnamese fisheries technology and experience.

Chinese firm to help raise pigs in Cambodia Phnom Penh Post 18th Sep 2017
The Ministry of Agriculture signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese agricultural company to provide technical assistance in developing pig production in Cambodia. The agreement, signed on Tuesday at the 14th China-Asean Expo in Nanning, will see the ministry cooperate with China’s Guangxi Forword Agricultural Technology International Cooperation on breeding research for pig-raising, with the Chinese firm agreeing to establish a piggery in Cambodia.

“The more we produce rice, the poorer and poorer we get” Southeast Asia Globe 18th Sep 2017
At the height of the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, once the cities stood empty and the fields teemed with the worn-out workforce of a nation torn apart, Pol Pot had a plan. Inspired by tales of the vast fields and limitless yields of the Khmer Empire, the man who would eventually be blamed for the deaths of almost two million of his own people dreamed of a Cambodia that would become the cornucopia of Southeast Asia. Rice production quotas were set: more than triple what they had been in peacetime. They were never met. For millennia, rice has been the backbone of Cambodia’s all-encompassing agricultural sector. But with global rice prices falling and neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam mobilising their vast resources and workforces to boost domestic production, experts say the crop that has underpinned the nation’s rise and fall needs to give way to more profitable alternatives.

RDB extends deadline for rice-storage bidding Phnom Penh Post 13th Sep 2017
The government-run Rural Development Bank (RDB) has extended the deadline to receive proposals from registered Cambodian agricultural firms to develop rice storage and drying facilities after receiving a tepid response to its finance offer, a bank official said yesterday. Kao Thach, chief executive of RDB, said firms would be given until September 22 to submit their proposals, adding that only four companies had submitted bids by the initial September 8 deadline. “We did not receive enough proposals for the bidding process so we need to extend the deadline . . . in order to give millers or investors more opportunities to submit their applications,” he said.

Ministers of Agriculture in Mekong agree to step up the cooperation on boosting food safety AKP 8th Sep 2017
Agriculture ministers in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) today endorsed a five-year strategy and action plan to build a region-wide food safety system. According to a news release of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the system will be based on mutually recognised, science-based standards, product tracing, and information sharing, especially on hazard lists for key commodities. ADB hosts the Secretariat of the GMS, which comprises Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China (specifically, Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region), the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Cambodia’s first mega solar farm being realised AKP 8th Sep 2017
Cambodia welcomes the country’s first-ever mega solar farm expected to feed 10 megawatts of power supply, according to a recent official Facebook post by the Ministry of Environment. Sitting in Bavet – a largest city of Svay Rieng province – the solar farm is operated by Sunseap Asset (Cambodia), the local subsidiary of Singapore-based Sunseap International, in cooperation with Cambodia’s Electricity Authority. The post quoted Director General of Electricité du Cambodge [Electricity of Cambodia] H.E. Keo Ratanak highlighting that the development means a milestone for the Royal Government of Cambodia’s effort to utilise renewable energy like solar power, which is harmless to the environment.

AgriTech accelerator for the Mekong region launched AKP 8th Sep 2017
As the Greater Mekong Subregion countries is conducting its three-day (Sept. 6-8) Second Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting in Siem Reap province, Cambodia, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Australia launched a new agritech accelerator that will harness entrepreneurship and technology to transform the Mekong region’s agriculture industry into a leading global supplier of safe and nutritious food for all. Named MATCh (Mekong Agriculture Technology Challenges), the startup accelerator will support startups in agriculture to develop their products, network and learn from industry players, showcase their solutions, and access markets and funding. It is aimed at innovative early stage agritech startups and traditional agriculture businesses with new, scalable business models in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

GMS ministers endorse strategy to boost food safety in Mekong Xinhua 8th Sep 2017
Agriculture ministers in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) endorsed a five-year strategy and action plan to build a regional food safety system on Friday during a meeting in northwest Cambodia's Siem Reap province. The system will be based on mutually recognized, science-based standards, product tracing and information sharing, especially on hazard lists for key commodities, said the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which organized the meeting. The ADB hosted the Secretariat of the GMS, which comprises Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. "The 2018-2022 GMS Strategy and Siem Reap Action Plan will help us become a leading supplier of safe and environment-friendly agricultural products," said Veng Sakhon, Cambodian Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.

Health & Life Sciences

AIA Cambodia launches ‘Health Report Card’ campaign Phnom Penh Post 30th Sep 2017
On September 30, AIA Cambodia launched the “Health Report Card”, a campaign that aims to help Cambodians reflect on their lifestyle choices. The Health Report Card provides an online platform reached via AIA Cambodia’s website.

Alarm as 'super malaria' spreads BBC News 22nd Sep 2017
The rapid spread of "super malaria" in South East Asia is an alarming global threat, scientists are warning. This dangerous form of the malaria parasite cannot be killed with the main anti-malaria drugs. It emerged in Cambodia but has since spread through parts of Thailand, Laos and has arrived in southern Vietnam. The team at the Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit in Bangkok said there was a real danger of malaria becoming untreatable.

Cambodia and the Lao People's Democratic Republic wipe out trachoma WHO 19th Sep 2017
The World Health Organization (WHO) today congratulated the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on eliminating trachoma as a public health problem.

Plan to cut rabies fatalities by half Khmer Times 27th Sep 2017
The Institut Pasteur du Cambodge and Sipar have launched a five-year action plan in collaboration with the government to reduce the death rate from rabies by 50 percent. A statement on the plan said 800 people are affected by rabies each year and only around 40,000 people are vaccinated annually, despite an estimated 600,000 Cambodians being bitten by dogs every year.

WHO tests new malaria therapy Phnom Penh Post 27th Sep 2017
High failure rates of the frontline medication to treat malaria in Southern Vietnam have revived concerns that parasites resistant to multiple drugs, first observed in Cambodia’s Pailin province, may be spreading. Meanwhile, experts in the Kingdom are currently testing alternative treatment options to stay ahead of resistance.

Cambodia confirms outbreak of Trichinellosis in central Kampong Thom province Xinhua 26th Sep 2017
The Cambodia's Ministry of Health confirmed on Tuesday an outbreak of Trichinellosis in an area in central Kampong Thom province that has left eight people dead and 25 others hospitalized. Trichinellosis is a disease that people can get by eating raw or undercooked meat from animals infected with the microscopic parasite Trichinella.

Cambodia and Laos eliminate trachoma as a public health problem Cision 19th Sep 2017
The ministries of health of Laos and Cambodia have eliminated trachoma as a public health problem according to a recent announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO). Only three trachoma endemic countries achieved elimination before Laos and Cambodia. Trachoma is a bacterial eye infection that can cause the eyelids to scar and, ultimately, turn eyelashes inwards leading to trichiasis, the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide.

Infrastructure

One of Asia’s Fastest-Growing Cities Just Got a $1 Billion Plumbing Bill Next City 25th Sep 2017
It was a scene that perfectly encapsulated Phnom Penh’s development dilemma: Hundreds of ramshackle houseboats that usually anchor in the river north of the Cambodian capital had pushed downstream in search of cleaner waters, mooring with a view of glittering high-rise buildings that are reshaping the city skyline. Home to poor fish farmers who earn their living on the water, the boats had found refuge from a river sludge in the shadow of a city that’s in the throes of rapid and continually accelerating development — with little regard for the negative consequences borne largely by the poorest residents. As they waited for the sludge to clear, local officials denied that sewage overflow had caused a fish die-off. They instead blamed, variously, climate change causing the water to become too hot and heavy rain, claims unconvincing to residents.

Cambodia will cap cement plants at five International Cement Review 19th Sep 2017
Cambodia is in the middle of a cement capacity expansion programme, but a state official has announced that the country's government will not offer more than the five cement production licences for the plants that will be operational by the end of the year. The licence cap only applies to production facilities. While companies must obtain production licences from the Ministry of Industry, quarry permits are issued by the Ministry of Mines and Energy, according to Phnom Penh Post.

Thailand

Thai links set to boost trade with Cambodia Bangkok Post 13th Sep 2017
The Cambodian Commerce Ministry has committed to joining up with the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh to build a favourable business and investment climate between the Asean neighbours. The aim is to expand trade to achieve the target of Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart Prayut Chan-o-cha’s pledge of US$15 billion bilateral trade by 2020.

Vietnam

Hanoi, Phnom Penh urged to promote partnership VOV 9th Sep 2017
Vietnam and Cambodia should pay greater attention to creating optimal conditions for their ministries and localities, including Hanoi and Phnom Penh, to expand partnership in all fields, said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. At a reception in Phnom Penh on September 9 for Secretary of the Hanoi Party Committee Hoang Trung Hai, PM Hun Sen, who is also President of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said that the two capital cities should increase the sharing of information and experience in urban management, and strengthen people-to-people contact.