Cambodia Update: January 31, 2019

Cambodia Update: January 31, 2019
Author: Jack Myint
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

February 21: Welcome Roundtable in Honor of H.E. Chum Sounry, Ambassador of Cambodia to the United States. Please contact Jack Myint at jmyint@usasean.org with any questions. 

March 18-22: 2019 Post-ASEAN Transport Ministers Meeting Roadshow Please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org with any questions.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

U.S. Congress Introduces Legislation to Sanction Cambodia
On January 9, Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) re-introduced the Cambodia Human Rights Act to the U.S. House of Representatives, along with co-sponsors, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), and Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX). The bill, known as HR5754, aims to apply travel restrictions and economic sanctions against individuals and entities that are directly affiliated with "undermining democracy and violating human rights" in Cambodia. The Council's full analysis of the bill can be accessed here. Congressman Yoho first introduced the bill last year and while it passed the House unanimously in July 2018, the Bill did not make it past the Senate. In an interview with Voice of America, Congressman Yoho expressed optimism in passing the Bill this time around. “We had a lot of bi-partisan support last year and I think you’ll see the same amount this year, and we have a companion bill in the Senate,” said Yoho.

In the Senate, a bi-partisan Bill, known as the Cambodia Trade Act, emphasized the need for the U.S. Government to review the preferential trade treatment Cambodia receives under the General System of Preferences (GSP). It is co-sponsored by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Chris Coons (D-DL) and can be accessed here. Given that the United States is currently the largest importer of Cambodian goods, if passed in both chambers of Congress, these legislation could have a significant impact on the Cambodian economy, especially its garment industry, which is a primary economic driver. From a foreign policy angle, it could potentially drive Cambodia further away from the West and closer towards China, which has been steadily and steadfastly increasing its presence throughout the Kingdom. The Council will continue to closely monitor developments and keep members apprised.

China Pledges Increased Support for Cambodian Infrastructure Projects

On January 22, during his four-day official visit to China, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen revealed that Beijing has agreed to provide his country with nearly US$600 million in aid as part of a three-year assistance fund. Prime Minister Hun Sen said the two countries also agreed to increase bilateral trade to US$10 billion by 2023 (from the current US$6 billion). In addition, President Xi reportedly has pledged to buy 400,000 tons of rice from Cambodia in 2019 and increase direct investments in the country, particularly in infrastructure.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol said that China has played a leading role in partnering with the Cambodian government to promote infrastructure development across the country by backing essential projects such as the construction of roads, bridges, railways, and ports as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. “Cooperation between Cambodia and China in infrastructure sector is excellent, as most of the national roads in Cambodia have been built under concessional loans and grant aid from China,” he said. According to Ministry of Public Works and Transport figures, more than 2,000 km of roads, seven large bridges, and a new container terminal of the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port have thus far been constructed under China’s aid. Looking ahead, Chinese companies are also set to invest in a new international airport project and a 190-km long expressway project from Phnom Penh to the southwestern coastal province of Preah Sihanouk.

The strengthening of trade and investment ties between China and Cambodia come amidst the latter’s souring relations with the West over the results of the 2018 general elections and other alleged human rights violations by the Hun Sen government. The EU recently imposed tariffs on Cambodia’s rice exports and has threatened to revoke the “Everything but Arms” (EBA) initiative that it offers Cambodia as part of the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP). The United States has imposed sanctions against some senior Cambodian government officials under the Global Magnitsky Act, and a debate continues within the U.S. Congress over whether to impose broader economic sanctions targeting Cambodia.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Regional Affairs
Government asked to ensure reopening of media outlets
Cambodia and Vietnam agree to boost trade

National Affairs
US Lawmakers Confident Cambodia Sanctions Bill Will Pass
Cambodia’s foreign policy: Challenges and prospects
Cambodia's opposition leaders in exile to return
Cambodian PM warns of 'dead' opposition if EU withdraws preferences

Customs
Kamsab removed from ports as Kingdom braces for loss of preferential trade access
Anti-smuggling watercraft launched
Premier pushes for FTA with China
Future of EBA discussed during AEM sideline meeting
Ministry to lose $60M a year in revenue
Cambodia to end border check
Prime Minister unveils policy to combat reliance on EU, US trade
Vietnam, Cambodia commit to building peaceful border
Opinion: Trade facilitation remains a challenge for Cambodia
CO forms not needed for export unless required in destination
Double taxation accord set to be implemented

Economics
+ Trade between US and Cambodia rises 27 percent on previous year
Making Cambodians more competitive
Trade deficit grows once more
China Pledges $10 Billion in Support to Cambodia as Relations With West Deteriorate
Cambodia Faces Next Trade-Sanctions Move by the European Union
Cambodia Economic Update October 2018: Recent Economic Developments and Outlook

Energy
National grid to reach all provinces next year
Solar sector increasingly attractive: Minister
Indonesia eyes LNG export to Cambodia
Cambodia to start extracting oil in October
Cambodia less reliant on electricity imports, says official
Kingdom petrol price spike looms
Germany set to launch first loan to Cambodia
Cambodia’s solar regulation

Food & Agriculture
What the EU’s new tariffs mean for Cambodia and Myanmar’s rice farmers
Rice exporters call for planning, coordination
South Korea has an appetite for the Kingdom’s agriculture
10-day US Foods Week kicks off in Phnom Penh as demand among Cambodians continue to rise
Cambodia wants bulk agro negotiation with China
Rubber price drops while exports rise
Organic coffee production boosted
Cambodia rice exports continue to fall
Sugarcane a ‘huge potential for farmers’
Banana farm inspections to ease SPS compliance worries
New pepper federation set to promote sector
Swiss NGO to invest $7.8m in agriculture projects

Health & Life Sciences
NGO launches $1.5 million nutrition project
Take care of your health during winter: Labour Ministry

ICT
Digitising Cambodia’s economic future
Vietnam, Cambodia boost information safety cooperation
Telcos contribute $9 million to USO fund
‘The time for digitalisation is now,’ experts tell local firms
Official warns of cyber attacks
In Cambodia, fintech development is slowly gathering pace
Cambodia’s tour guides face tech disruption

Infrastructure
Cambodian infrastructure focus of pacts
Cambodia breaks ground for construction of China-funded road
Cambodia: new airports needed for projected tourist boom
Sihanoukville airport needed to be upgraded: Hun Sen
Study to shed light on air connectivity in Mekong region

Travel & Tourism
Cambodia 3rd in Asean for tourist growth

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Government asked to ensure reopening of media outlets Khmer Times 5th Dec 2018
The United States embassy in Phnom Penh is urging the government to ensure that Radio Free Asia and Voice of America resume their work in the country without obstruction amid the government’s push to reverse perceived democratic setbacks. The Foreign Affairs Ministry on Monday issued an outline of steps being taken by the government to placate the European Union after it began procedures to revoke the Everything-but-arms treaty based upon setbacks to democracy, human rights and media freedom.

Cambodia and Vietnam agree to boost trade Bangkok Post 29th Nov 2018
Cambodia and Vietnam has agreed on a speedy implementation of mechanisms to facilitate trade, achieve faster transport connectivity, and apply one-stop services at border gates to help achieve a US$5 billion (165 billion baht) bilateral trade target. The commitment to boost trade was made during bilateral talks between Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Prak Sokhonn and his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh in Hanoi, the Khmer Times reported on Thursday.

National Affairs

US Lawmakers Confident Cambodia Sanctions Bill Will Pass VOA 29th Jan 2019
US lawmakers have said they are optimistic that a new bill to impose sanctions on Cambodia will be passed by Congress given the strong support it received last year. The Cambodia Democracy Act was reintroduced by Congressman Ted Yoho (R-FL) earlier this month and has received bi-partisan support. It was co-sponsored by Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), chairman of the House’s Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX). The bill aims to apply travel and economic sanctions on individuals who have “undermined democracy” in Cambodia and violated human rights.

Cambodia’s foreign policy: Challenges and prospects Khmer Times 28th Jan 2019
In terms of contribution to peace, Cambodia has deployed more than 5,000 troops under the framework of the United Nations to various conflict zones. Strategically located at the center of the Mekong Region and Southeast Asia, Cambodia has great potential to become a bridging state in the region and strengthen its leadership role within Asean and other sub-regional institutions, argues Chheang Vannarith. Small states such as Cambodia have fewer foreign policy options, given the narrowing strategic space for small states to manoeuver. In such a transitional period, Cambodia has to adjust and adapt in order to survive and thrive. Foreign policy is not only the extension of domestic politics but also the adaptation to external dynamics. Cambodia’s worldview is dynamic – it continues to observe the main trends of regional and global politics, from which multiple futures can be formed.

Cambodia's opposition leaders in exile to return Aljazeera 25th Jan 2019
The exiled members of banned Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have told Al Jazeera they are planning to return to Cambodia in the next few months. In the run-up to the 2018 election, more than 100 CNRP members were barred from politics on the charge of conspiring with foreign countries to overthrow the government and the party was dissolved. Many of them fled the country fearing arrest.

Cambodian PM warns of 'dead' opposition if EU withdraws preferences Reuters 13th Jan 2019
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday threatened to retaliate against the opposition if the European Union withdraws duty-free trading access over human rights concerns. The EU in November began a formal procedure to strip Cambodia of its Everything but Arms (EBA) status, after Hun Sen returned to power in a July general election in which his party won all of the seats after a crackdown on the opposition. “If you want the opposition dead, just cut it,” Hun Sen said in a speech at the inauguration of a ring road around the capital, Phnom Penh, addressing the European Union and referring to Cambodia’s EBA status. “If you want the opposition alive, don’t do it and come and hold talks together,” he said. EBA is an initiative aimed at helping poorer countries. It can be withdrawn in the case of serious violations of human rights conventions. The EU threatened to withdraw the trade preferences because of a crackdown on the opposition ahead of the July election, which the EU condemned as not being credible.

Customs

Kamsab removed from ports as Kingdom braces for loss of preferential trade access Phnom Penh Post 28th Jan 2019
The Cambodian government has begun a series of reforms intended to strengthen economic independence and promote business in the Kingdom, as they prepare for the possible loss of preferential trade access to the EU and US in the coming months. Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday announced one such measure, with the removal of the Kampuchea Shipping Agency and Brokers (Kamsab) – a state agency established in 1979 to facilitate trading by ship – officers from ports. The announcement was made one day after the prime minister signed a sub-decree to terminate Camcontrol operations from all border checkpoints.

Anti-smuggling watercraft launched Khmer Times 28th Jan 2019
The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) last week held an inauguration ceremony in Sihanoukville for two patrol boats donated by the Japanese government. The boats, together valued at $4.5 million, were given by the Japanese government to help Cambodian authorities crackdown on smuggling, said the Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Horinouchi Hidehisa on Friday during the ceremony, which was held at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port. “These two patrol boats will help prevent illegal activity in Cambodian waters and will help GDCE enhance the efficiency of its operations,” said Mr Hidehisa. GDCE director Kun Nhim said the boats will help the agency modernise and expand revenue. “The assistance of the Japanese government, particularly the donation of these patrol boats equipped with advanced technology, will enhance our capacity to stop illegal activities in our waters,” he said. Last year, revenue at GDCE reached $2.08 billion, an increase of more than 9 percent compared to 2017.

Premier pushes for FTA with China Khmer Times 23rd Jan 2019
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday urged China to consider entering a free trade agreement with the Kingdom to spur trade and investment between the two nations. An FTA with the world’s largest market will help Cambodia diversify its export market, currently dominated by the European Union and the United States. Prime Minister Hun Sen raised the issue of an FTA with China during a meeting on Monday with Chinese president Xi Jinping as part of the Cambodian premier’s official visit to Beijing. In the meeting, Mr Hun Sen said that, with economic ties between the countries stronger every year, an FTA seems like the next logical step. “We want to see a strong and long-lasting comprehensive strategic partnership,” Mr Hun Sen was quoted as saying. “We signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement in 2010, and now a free trade agreement to boost trade and investment seems natural.”

Future of EBA discussed during AEM sideline meeting Khmer Times 22nd Jan 2019
On the sidelines of the on-going Asean-EU Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn met with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström to discuss the future of Cambodia’s access to the Everything-but-arms preferential trade agreement. The EU last year notified the government that it was considering withdrawing the EBA scheme due to perceived democratic setbacks. “Without clear and evident improvements on the ground, this will lead to the suspending of the trade preferences that they currently enjoy,” Ms Malmström said in October. Daniel Rosario, an EU spokesman on the issues of agriculture and rural development, yesterday said “we have nothing to add at this stage”, telling the media to refer to a Tweet by Ms Malmström, confirming that a meeting regarding the future of EBA was discussed with Mr Sokhonn.

Ministry to lose $60M a year in revenue Phnom Penh Post 20th Jan 2019
The Ministry of Commerce will lose $60 million in revenue annually after the government eliminated export procedures in a campaign to boost competitiveness, a senior official at the ministry has said. Speaking at a press conference on Friday regarding the EU’s decision to impose safeguard measures on Cambodian rice, the ministry’s secretary of state Sok Sopheak said a series of government decisions to eliminate export procedures would help lower costs for businesses and rice exporters. Sopheak said the November 2017 decision to eliminate export management fees from last year resulted in an annual revenue loss of $20 million. He said last month’s decision not to require exporters to apply for a certificate of origin (CO) would yield in a $10 million revenue loss while the most recent decision to relieve Camcontrol from its inspection duties at border checkpoints will cause a further $30 million loss. “[The revenue lost] from the reformation will help all types of businesses to conduct commerce as well as help the Cambodian rice industry,” he said.

Cambodia to end border check The Nation 15th Jan 2019
At a gathering of 5,000 Cambodian journalists on Friday, Hun Sen revealed a series of trade facilitations and announced a plan to relieve Camcontrol from its inspection duties at border checkpoints to reduce the burden for businesses. Camcontrol is the Ministry of Commerce’s Cambodia Import-Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate-General. He said the custom clearance procedures will be reduced and informal charges will be barred. He said the fee for container goods scanning will be reduced in order to reduce the cost for traders. “[We will] open a campaign to strengthen Cambodia’s independence in which some [decisions] will help our businesses and allow Cambodia to survive despite the absence of preferential trade treatment.”

Prime Minister unveils policy to combat reliance on EU, US trade Khmer Times 13th Jan 2019
Prime Minister unveils policy to combat reliance on EU, US trade Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday unveiled a national policy to counteract the effects of the potential revocation of Cambodia’s preferential trade status with the European Union and the United States. Speaking during an annual dinner event with representatives of the media, Mr Hun Sen said the new policy, dubbed ‘National Independence Policy’, aims to make economic growth less reliant on the European and US markets by facilitating trade through the country’s land border crossings.

Vietnam, Cambodia commit to building peaceful border Nhan Dan Online 11th Jan 2019
The information was contained in a joint statement issued following the 10th meeting on cooperation and development between border localities of the two nations, co-chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh and Cambodian Deputy PM and Interior Minister Sar Kheng in Ho Chi Minh City from January 9-10. Both sides hailed the frequent visit exchange of high-level leaders since the ninth meeting, as well as efforts made by competent ministries and sectors in building legal frameworks and realising cooperative mechanisms to facilitate mutual support between border provinces. They encouraged investment and support for border localities and agreed that both nations should increase coordination so as to better and more promptly cope with challenges in the areas concerned. Speaking highly of the significance of security-defence cooperation in keeping peace and stability in each nation, they said that they are adamant in forbidding any hostile force to use their country’s territory to harm the other’s security.

Opinion: Trade facilitation remains a challenge for Cambodia Khmer Times 4th Jan 2019
International development partners should continue to provide technical support to strengthen institutional capacity and leadership of trade-related agencies, particularly in customs reforms. Diagnostic trade integration study and knowledge sharing of best practices from different parts of the world should be expanded. Public-private dialogue on trade facilitation needs to be encouraged in order to better develop policy reforms and design inclusive and holistic solutions.

CO forms not needed for export unless required in destination Khmer Times 1st Jan 2019
CO forms not needed for export unless required in destination Local exporters are not required to produce a certificate of origin (CO) at Cambodian customs if the document is not required by authorities in the destination country. The exemption is part of a directive issued by the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Economy and Finance this week. If the CO is not presented, however, exporters must send a notification letter with the details of the shipment to the Ministry of Commerce 30 days before the goods are exported. The information will be used for statistical analysis, the directive said. The REX system is based on the principle of self-certification. By joining the system, companies become ‘registered exporters’, which allows them to issue their own statements of origin. Companies that wish to join REX must meet several requirements. They must be registered as a company in Cambodia, and they must not be filing for bankruptcy or be included in the government’s blacklist at the time of application. Exported goods must meet CO requirements. Registration with REX will be free-of-charge until June 30, 2020, according to the directive.

Double taxation accord set to be implemented Phnom Penh Post 28th Dec 2018
The double taxation agreement between Cambodia and three other countries has come into effect and will be implemented from January 1 next year, a General Department of Taxation (GDT) press release said. According to the GDT, Cambodia and China signed the deal in 2016 in order to avoid double taxation and prevent evasion of income tax. The Kingdom also signed another two such agreements with Brunei last year and with Vietnam this year, according to the release. The agreements will grant protection to nationals of both countries from dual taxation and will boost foreign direct investment and trade between the countries. The Kingdom’s tax department is currently negotiating double taxation agreements with other countries, including Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea and Japan.

Economics

Trade between US and Cambodia rises 27 percent on previous year The Phnom Penh Post 30 Jan 2019
Bilateral trade volume between Cambodia and the US last year rose 27 per cent to more than $3 billion, Cambodian Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak said on Monday. Sorasak said bilateral trade between Cambodia and the US last year increased by about $700 million to $3.31 billion, from $2.61 billion in 2017. During the fifth coalition council meeting on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between Cambodia and the US, the minister said the US is the Kingdom’s second largest market, with Cambodian exports to the US valued at $2.88 billion and imports from the US worth $426 million.

Making Cambodians more competitive The ASEAN Post 29th Jan 2019
The European Institute of Business Administration’s (INSEAD) 2019 Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) report, released earlier this month, revealed that Cambodia had managed to move up one notch in the rankings as a country for attracting and growing talent. This means the Kingdom moved from 108th to 107th in the talent ranking. While on paper, this is only one step, it is noteworthy that in 2018, the GTCI only surveyed 119 countries while this year’s GTCI surveyed 125.

Trade deficit grows once more Phnom Penh Post 29th Jan 2019
Cambodia’s trade deficit with the rest of the world continued to widen last year to $5.2 billion, as the Kingdom’s imports outstripped its exports once again, a National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) report released on Saturday said. The NBC figures revealed that the Kingdom imported $18.8 billion worth of goods last year while it exported only $13.6 billion. The central bank’s figures showed that the year-on-year growth rate of import value was 21.3 per cent last year, while exports were 21 per cent. “The increasing demand for goods such as construction materials, vehicles, food-related goods, as well as the increasing price of imported oil and more demand for raw materials for the manufacturing sector, are the main factors accelerating imports,” NBC said in its report. Cambodia’s trade deficit last year amounted to $5.2 billion – a 22 per cent increase on $4.27 billion in 2017 said the report. The Kingdom’s trade deficit in 2015 and 2016 amounted to $3.94 billion and $3.84 billion respectively.

China Pledges $10 Billion in Support to Cambodia as Relations With West Deteriorate VOA 23rd Jan 2019
China has pledged to import 400,000 tons of Cambodian rice, expanding the trade volume between Cambodia and China to $10 billion by 2023 and granting nearly $600 million to Cambodia, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page. China's pledge followed a meeting between Prime Minister Hun Sen and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday on the third day of the prime minister's four-day visit to Beijing. "His Excellency [Xi Jinping] said that although international relations have changed, the relations between China and Cambodia are certainly benefiting each other, and through this, China will continue to expand cooperation with Cambodia, especially for the development of Cambodia to be twice more solid,” according to the post. The strengthening of the relations between the Cambodian and Chinese governments coincided with the EU's declaration of increasing import duties on Cambodian rice and the possibility of its removal from the preferential trading scheme known as Everything But Arms.

Cambodia Faces Next Trade-Sanctions Move by the European Union Bloomberg 22nd Jan 2019
The European Union moved closer to imposing trade sanctions against Cambodia as a result of alleged human-rights violations in the country. The European Commission in Brussels has asked EU national governments to give the green light by Jan. 29 for suspending a policy that lets Cambodia export all goods except weapons duty-free and quota-free to the bloc, according to two officials familiar with the matter. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are private. Any go-ahead from EU national capitals would still leave a decision by the commission, the bloc’s executive arm, 12 months away. At stake is Cambodia’s place in the EU’s “Everything But Arms” initiative, the most generous part of the bloc’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences for poor countries around the world.

Cambodia Economic Update October 2018: Recent Economic Developments and Outlook World Bank 28th Nov 2018
Growth has held up well in Cambodia. It is expected to marginally expand this year, reaching 7.1 percent in 2018, driven by domestic consumption and exports.

Energy

National grid to reach all provinces next year Khmer Times 23rd Jan 2019
The government says it plans to have all 24 provinces in the country connected to the national grid by 2020. Five provinces still lack access to the national power grid – Tboung Khmum, Kampong Thom, Oddar Meanchey, Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri. Speaking at Electricity Authority of Cambodia’s annual meeting yesterday, Yim Viseth, chairman of the agency, said that these provinces receive energy indirectly from the national grid or are serviced by private companies, which makes electricity tariffs higher. Once they are connected to the national grid, the power supply will become cheaper and more reliable, he added. “Our aim is to have these five provinces connected to the national grid by next year,” he said.

Solar sector increasingly attractive: Minister Khmer Times 23rd Jan 2019
With the Kingdom’s largest solar energy project due to come online this year in Kampong Speu province, the local solar sector is luring an increasing number of investors every year, the Minister of Mines and Energy said. Minister Suy Sem yesterday said that Kampong Speu’s 60-megawatt solar farm, being built with an investment of $60 million, will be ready by the end of the year, as originally planned. “Everything is going according to plan, and the plant should be ready in time,” Mr Sem said, adding that the government welcomes investment on renewables to increase the country’s capacity to generate power. The minister’s comment follows an announcement by Huaneng Group earlier this week unveiling plans for a solar energy project in Cambodia. During Prime Minister’s Hun Sen official visit to Beijing this week, Huaneng Group’s CEO Shu Yinbiao told him that the company plans to invest in Cambodia’s solar sector, according to a post on Mr Hun Sen’s Facebook page.

Indonesia eyes LNG export to Cambodia Antara News 17th Jan 2019
Indonesia has eyed export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Cambodia to meet the demand for power plants in the country, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said here on Wednesday. "I have talked about our economy. The Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources (Ignasius Jonan) and a team of PGN (the state gas firm PT Perusahaan Gas Negara) will continue the discussion in Phnom Penh and on how we can sell gas (to Cambodia)," Kalla stated. According to Kalla, the high electricity tariff in Cambodia should be seen as an opportunity for Indonesia to offer natural gas as an alternative to diesel oil for power generator. "Electricity here is very expensive, US$17 cent (per KwH), while our price is $7 cent. I have explained (to Premier Hun Sen) that our minister has already talked about it and it would be continued today," he added. Meanwhile, Jonan remarked that private electricity company has controlled 90 percent of production in Cambodia and the remaining was managed by the government. Power plants in Cambodia have used diesel oil, coal, and water for the generator, while the country has yet to have the infrastructure for gas-generated power plant. "We offer to replace diesel oil with gas. PGN has made the offer. If they agree, PGN will invest here (in Cambodia)," Jonan noted. A gas-generated power plant would need a facility of regasification to convert LNG into electricity. Therefore, Indonesia has also offered development of the regasification facility.

Cambodia to start extracting oil in October Bangkok Post 16th Jan 2019
Cambodia is set to start extracting oil from an offshore oilfield being developed in the Gulf of Thailand in October, a government official said Wednesday. Cheap Sour, director general of the Mines and Energy Ministry, said that following the first extraction, commercial production of the oil from an area known as Block A in the Khmer basin will begin next year. Singapore-based oil and gas company KrisEnergy Ltd., which holds a 95%  stake in the area, is expected to produce 7,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Cambodia, which holds the remaining interest in the area, expects to earn $780 million during a nine-year period from next year, according to the official. Bloc A is one of several oilfields found off Cambodia and is located about 160km from Sihanoukville, a major Cambodian port southwest of Phnom Penh.

Cambodia less reliant on electricity imports, says official Khmer Times 7th Jan 2019
Victor Jona, director-general of Energy at the Ministry of Mines and Energy, said Cambodia is less reliant on foreign electricity sources, resulting in a reduction of the country’s electricity imports due to the constant development of the local electricity sector. Mr Jona said the development of the energy sector in Cambodia has increased significantly thanks to foreign investment and development partners, setting the pace for Cambodia’s independence in its future energy needs. “Compared to 2009 and 2010, we imported about 60 percent of our energy needs, but because of an increase in locally generated electricity supply, our imports from Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos now represents only 15 to 16 percent of our total consumption. “The country’s energy sector has seen increased development over the years resulting in 87 percent of households nationwide getting electricity at the end of last year,” Mr Jona said. By the end of 2018, 86.85 percent of 14,168 villages nationwide had electricity, a massive boost for the government’s plans to achieve 100 percent electrification of villages in the country. About 72 percent of over 3.5 million households were electrified by the end of 2018, a report from the Electricity Authority of Cambodia noted. The rest of the electrification process will be completed by 2030.

Kingdom petrol price spike looms Phnom Penh Post 4th Dec 2018
Retail petrol prices in the Kingdom continued to fall on Monday amid an increase in crude oil prices in the international market. This follows the renewal of a pact between two top oil producers to cap output and the temporary trade cease fire between the US and China. A Ministry of Commerce statement released on Monday said petrol prices fell by 200 riel to 3,450 riel per litre, while diesel dropped 300 riel per litre to 3,500 riel for the period between December 1 and 15. The ministry said the drop came as part of a growing trend of falling oil prices in regional and international markets. Normally, the ministry evaluates retail petrol and diesel prices once every two weeks in line with market price fluctuations. However, oil prices soared more than five per cent on Monday with West Texas Intermediate rising $2.82 to $53.75 and Brent up $2.98 at $62.44. The crude price spike comes after Russia and Saudi Arabia renewed a pact to cap output, while the US agreed to halt raising tariffs on Chinese imports, stalling a trade row that many feared could hit demand for the commodity. Bin Many Mialia, deputy managing director of Commercial Marketing and Corporate Affairs at PTT (Cambodia) Ltd, said the price of petrol in Cambodia will not rise immediately due to the ministry setting oil prices once every two weeks, also factoring in the price it set for the previous two-week period in its calculations. However, he said if international crude oil prices increase in the long-term, petrol prices in Cambodia will fluctuate accordingly.

Germany set to launch first loan to Cambodia Phnom Penh Post 4th Dec 2018
The German Embassy on Thursday announced its first loan to the Kingdom of Cambodia of €30 million ($34.06 million), which will be used to upgrade its rural energy grid. The embassy said in a statement after a meeting with Electricite du Cambodge (EDC – Electricity Authority of Cambodia) that by investing in rural energy efficiency, the EDC can reduce power losses significantly, improve access in remote areas and increase the reliability of power supply. The improved access to power grids in rural Cambodia also contributes to Cambodia’s ambitious targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the statement said. The new project marks the first step in development cooperation between Cambodia and Germany and reflects the Kingdom’s advance towards becoming a lower-middle income country. This loan is funded by the German Ministry for International Development’s Climate Technology Initiative and will be implemented by Germany’s KfW’s development bank.

Cambodia’s solar regulation Phnom Penh Post 26th Nov 2018
On january 26, the Electricity Authority of Cambodia (EAC) enacted for the first time a solar generation regulation. The regulation is a new driver for the country’s solar photovoltaic (PV) system development. The solar generation regulation has elevated the regulatory framework in Cambodia with a foreseeable positive impact to its future solar PV development. Having six to nine hours of daylight on a daily basis, the solar irradiation in Cambodia is recorded at 5kWh/m2/day. Despite having such potential, Cambodia is still dependent on imported electricity which accounts for 36 per cent of its power generation last year, which is an increase from 2015 and 2016 (26 per cent and 23 per cent respectively).

Food & Agriculture

What the EU’s new tariffs mean for Cambodia and Myanmar’s rice farmers The Cambodia Daily 19th Jan 2019
Rice farmers across Cambodia and Myanmar have been left scrambling for new markets for their crop after the European Union announced on Wednesday that it will now be imposing hefty tariffs on long-grain Indica rice from both Southeast Asian nations for the next three years beginning today. The decision, announced by the European Commission this week, follows a month-long investigation that confirmed the increase in Indica imports from Cambodia and Myanmar has been damaging to EU rice producers.

Rice exporters call for planning, coordination Khmer Times 5th Dec 2018
Local rice exporters yesterday call for better planning and communication between all industry actors to meet China’s import quota.

South Korea has an appetite for the Kingdom’s agriculture Phnom Penh Post 4th Dec 2018
South Korean investors may look further into Cambodia’s food processing and agriculture sectors instead of its technology industry said the Asean-Korea Centre (AKC). AKC secretary-general Lee Hyuk said Korean companies also regard Cambodia as a potential investment destination.

10-day US Foods Week kicks off in Phnom Penh as demand among Cambodians continue to rise Phnom Penh Post 3rd Dec 2018
The US Foods Week is back in town as the appetite for American food products continue to grow among the increasing affluent Cambodian consumers. Local consumers and tourists to Cambodia have been keen on US foods. US food imports into Cambodia have doubled in value, from $10.3 million in 2013 to $19.6 million in 2017.

Cambodia wants bulk agro negotiation with China Khmer Times 28th Nov 2018
Cambodia urged China to consider a package deal in negotiations on sensitive sanitary and phytosanitary issues regarding exports of agricultural products to Beijing, said Ho Sivyong, director of Export and Import Department at Ministry of Commerce yesterday. Mr Sivyong said with this proposal, negotiators will be able to discuss a regulatory framework that will accelerate local exports of agricultural products to China.

Rubber price drops while exports rise Phnom Penh Post 27th Nov 2018
Cambodian rubber exports during the first 10 months are up 24 per cent, while the price decreased 18 per cent compared to the same period last year, figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said.

Organic coffee production boosted Khmer Times 19th Nov 2018
Locally produced organic coffee has seen a significant rise in demand followed by a 50 percent increase of land under cultivation in 2018 mostly due to the shifting taste buds among citizens in Phnom Penh, said officials on Friday.

Cambodia rice exports continue to fall Bangkok Post 14th Nov 2018
Cambodia’s rice export fell 13.2% in the first 10 months of 2018 due to two factors, the European Union stopped buying Cambodian rice and the 300,000 tonnes quota to China was not fulfilled, Kann Kunthy, vice president and managing director of Amru Rice Cambodia, said. Kunthy was commenting on a report from the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export which said in the first 10 months of 2018, Cambodia exported 434,807 tonnes of rice, compared to 492,115 tonnes over the same period in 2017. s top export market.

Sugarcane a ‘huge potential for farmers’ Phnom Penh Post 13th Nov 2018
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries spokesman Srey Vuthy said the ministry is now trying to persuade farmers to grow sugarcane. This is because the sector has ample room for growth as sugar companies push for higher yields. He said the sugarcane industry has huge potential for farmers to boost their cultivation to meet the industry’s production requirements.

Banana farm inspections to ease SPS compliance worries Khmer Times 13th Nov 2018
In an effort to ensure compliance with sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards in the Chinese market, the Ministry of Agriculture will send teams to registered banana farms to conduct on-site checks.

New pepper federation set to promote sector Phnom Penh Post 12th Nov 2018
The government has formed a new federation for the country’s pepper industry to enhance the market and solve challenges in the sector, as the cash crop is currently facing depressed prices.

Swiss NGO to invest $7.8m in agriculture projects Khmer Times 9th Nov 2018
Swiss NGO HEKS/EPER yesterday announced a five-year strategy that will see nearly $8 million poured into programmes that tackle food security, access to water, good governance, and the cashew nut value chain, among others. Covering the years 2018-2022, the HEKS/EPER Foundation’s programme directly targets 100,000 people in the provinces of Pursat, Kampong Chhnang, Prey Veng, Tboung Khmum, Kratie, Mondulkiri, and Stung Treng.

Health & Life Sciences

NGO launches $1.5 million nutrition project Khmer Times 28th Jan 2019
Plan International Cambodia yesterday launched its 1,000 Days Nutrition project in Stung Treng province for which it will spend $1.5 million for five years to provide better nutrition to children and women. In a press release, Plan International said the project will directly benefit over 7,000 children under the age of six, including those with severe malnutrition, in Siem Bouk, Thala Borivat, and Sesan districts. It noted that some 800 pregnant women, 3,100 men, parents, caregivers, village chiefs and health staff will also benefit from the project. Yi Kimthan, Plan International deputy country director, said yesterday the government has sustained the country’s high economic performance for over a decade, allowing rapid progress in various sectors, including health. He said that despite the government’s hard work, there remain gaps to fill, especially where maternal, infant and child nutrition is concerned. Mr Kimthan said without proper attention, the issue will become a key hurdle and slow down Cambodia’s development.

Take care of your health during winter: Labour Ministry Khmer Times 23rd Dec 2018
Labour Ministry and Cambodian Embassy in South Korea have called on all Cambodian migrant workers working there and in Japan to take good care of their health during the cold weather. Labour Ministry spokesman Heng Sour posted message on his Facebook page saying that all Cambodian people working and living in South Korea should protect their health during the cold season. “For good health of all brothers and sisters in Korea, as well as those in Japan and in other cold places during this winter, please take care of your health and wish you all good health,” Mr Sour said. The post said that while the weather is very cold, all workers working in South Korea have to wear thick, warm clothes, hats and gloves while travelling, going to work or staying outdoors. “Please take enough rest and do exercise in your houses regularly. When you sleep, you have to turn on the humidity machine or put some water in your room,” the post said. “Do not turn on the heating too high in the room. Keep the temperature in the room between the 18 and 24 degree Celsius,” it said.

ICT

Digitising Cambodia’s economic future East Asia Forum 2nd Jan 2019
In March 2018, the Cambodian government announced its plan to be ready to transform into a digital economy by 2023. A digital economy is one in which economic processes and activities are based on digital technologies (electronic systems and devices that generate, store or process data). The digitisation of the economy drives innovation and fuels job opportunities and economic growth. Cambodia’s economy grew at an estimated rate of 7.1 per cent in 2018, driven primarily by robust expansion in domestic consumption and exports. Despite this positive outlook, there are internal and external risks that may affect Cambodia’s future growth. These include the potential withdrawal of the European Union’s Everything But Arms trade preferences, unpredictable spillover effects of the ongoing trade frictions between the United States and China, and vulnerabilities in Cambodia’s financial sector related to the construction and real estate sectors.

Vietnam, Cambodia boost information safety cooperation Nhan Dan Online 17th Dec 2018
A conference on social networks and information safety took place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as part of the information and communications collaboration framework between Vietnam and Cambodia. Co-organised by Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications and Cambodia’s Ministry of Information and Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, the conference drew the attendance of relevant agencies from both sides.

Telcos contribute $9 million to USO fund Khmer Times 14th Dec 2018
The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC) yesterday said telecommunications companies contributed $9 million to the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund established for the Telecommunications and ICT sector last year. The government used the fund to strengthen communication connectivity with the construction of 41 new stations throughout the country, said a report from the MPTC.

‘The time for digitalisation is now,’ experts tell local firms Khmer Times 13th Dec 2018
With the government aiming to turn Cambodia into a predominantly digital economy by 2023, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) must strive to digitalise processes and integrate the latest technologies into their day-to-day operations in order to remain competitive, business insiders say. In its latest report, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) shed light on the importance of adopting advanced technologies to support SME productivity and growth.

Official warns of cyber attacks Khmer Times 12th Dec 2018
An Information Ministry official has warned that the development of new technologies can also have a negative effect on a nation. Huy Saravuth, secretary of state with the Information Ministry, yesterday during a Cambodia-Vietnam cyber security forum in Phnom Penh said hacking and the spread of fake news can impact reputation, the economy, national defence and diplomatic relations.

In Cambodia, fintech development is slowly gathering pace ASEAN Today 4th Dec 2018
As Singapore strides ahead of other ASEAN nations in the arena of fintech development, Cambodia lags some way behind. Its fintech infrastructure is one of the least developed in Southeast Asia. At the same time, in some areas – notably fintech regulation and growth potential – Cambodia has made strong progress. As investors target the fintech sector for 2019, few are rushing to invest in Cambodia. But could that change in the near future?

Cambodia’s tour guides face tech disruption The ASEAN Post 29th Nov 2018
A van arrives at Angkor Wat Temple and deposits its load of foreigners who make their way to the World Heritage Site. Noticeably absent among them is a local guide. The tourists brought their own guide, a handheld device that can speak up to 14 languages.

Infrastructure

Cambodian infrastructure focus of pacts Ecns 23rd Jan 2019
Eight cooperative agreements were signed between China and Cambodia on Tuesday to promote cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative and infrastructure, including water supply, highways and reservoir construction. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Premier Li Keqiang and visiting Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen. Before the ceremony, the two leaders had talks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. China will firmly support Cambodia on its path in line with its own national conditions, and better align the BRI with the country's development strategies, Li said. Chinese companies are supported in their participation in Cambodia's infrastructure construction and operation in areas such as transportation, power generation and production capacity, he said. Li called on the neighboring country to provide necessary assistance.

Cambodia breaks ground for construction of China-funded road Xinhua 14th Jan 2019
Cambodia on Monday broke ground for the construction of the third ring road encircling capital Phnom Penh under the concessional loan from China. Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian presided over the ceremony, which was attended by more than 10,000 people. The 47.6-km road, along with four flyovers and eleven bridges, will be constructed under the preferential buyer's credit loan from the Chinese government. Shanghai Construction (Group) General Company will undertake the construction, which is expected to be completed in 42 months, Hun Sen said. The four-lane road will connect National Road No. 4 in Chaom Chau 3 commune in southwestern Phnom Penh with National Road No. 1 in Kandal province's Kien Svay district in the eastern part of Phnom Penh.

Cambodia: new airports needed for projected tourist boom CAPA - Centre for Aviation 7th Jan 2019
France’s Vinci Airports has long had a connection with Cambodia through concessions at three of the main airports. Now the Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, has cast doubt on the efficacy of those airports, insisting that new ones need to be built, and one is actually underway. Hun Sen has stated that Cambodia's existing three international airports are not expected to be able to accommodate traffic demand by 2025, with international passengers forecast to increase from six million to 12 million per annum. The vast majority of visitors are from China and neighbouring countries, with the U.S. providing the largest western contingent (257,000 in 2017, 4.6%). But the times are changing and now it seems as if it will be Chinese firms, rather than European ones, which will be at the forefront of the drive to improve Cambodia’s aviation infrastructure. In Dec-2016 the government selected China’s Yunnan Investment Holdings Limited as the principal developer of Siem Reap.

Sihanoukville airport needed to be upgraded: Hun Sen Bangkok Post 28th Nov 2018
Sihanoukville airport had to be upgraded so that it can welcome 3 million tourists a year, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said. He said that due to an increase of international visitors, Cambodia’s three international airports will not be able to accommodate all tourists by 2025.

Study to shed light on air connectivity in Mekong region Khmer Times 19th Nov 2018
New research will soon shed light on the challenges and opportunities in boosting the number of air links between Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and China. Carried out as part of the Mekong Lancang Cooperation Framework, the study, which was launched in April and is expected to conclude in September next year, will provide insight into the most efficient ways of enhancing air connectivity between the four countries.

Travel & Tourism

Cambodia 3rd in Asean for tourist growth Khmer Times 21st Jan 2019
Every year, Angkor Wat attracts visitors from all over the world with its unique cultural charm. In 2018 Cambodia experienced the third largest increase in international tourists in Asean, behind only Vietnam and Indonesia, according to data recently released by the Ministry of Tourism. Last year, the number of international tourists visiting the Kingdom grew by 11 percent, a rate surpassed only by Indonesia, where foreign tourist arrivals grew by 11.6 percent, and Vietnam, who saw a 19.9 increase. A total of 6.2 million foreign visitors travelled to the Kingdom last year, making Cambodia the seventh most visited country by international tourists in 2018. Laos, Myanmar, Brunei ranked eighth, ninth and tenth, respectively. Thailand was the top destination for international tourists in the region, with 38 million visitors, followed by Malaysia (23 million), and Singapore (16 million). International tourists to Asean grew by 7.4 percent for a total of 129 million visitors.