Cambodia Update: April 2, 2019

Cambodia Update | April 2, 2019
Author: Jack Myint
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
April 9: 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. 
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Cambodia Announces Major Economic Reforms to Relieve Pressure from EU’s Potential Withdrawal of Everything but Arms Trade Benefits

On March 29, Cambodia’s Government-Private Sector Forum, an annual event where private sector representatives get to address their concerns directly to the prime minister, was held in Phnom Penh. During the forum Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that his government plans to launch large-scale economic reforms to help stimulate economic growth and offset the loss of a preferential trade agreement – the Everything but Arms agreement – that the European Union (EU) has threatened to withdraw in light of alleged “systemic” electoral and human rights violations. Read the Council’s latest analysis on the EU’s move to remove Cambodia’s trade privileges here.

Prime Minister Hun Sen detailed a 17-point strategy, which he says could save the private sector up to US$400 million annually. The strategy includes reduction of shipping costs, electricity rates, and port service fees for businesses. Hun Sen also announced plans to reform railway operations management, introduce fiscal incentives on tax and customs for small and medium-sized enterprises and the agriculture sector, expedite the completion of the Law on Investment and the Law on Special Economic Zones by the first half of 2019, and to reduce the number of national holidays from 30 to 23 days. These initiatives, if properly implemented, could help increase national productivity, lower business’ production costs, and make Cambodia a more attractive destination for foreign direct investment.

As of January 29, the Royal Government of Cambodia has ended the role of the Cambodia Import-Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate General (CamControl) at the country’s border crossings. According to Prime Minister Hun Sen, this will reduce logistical costs for the private sector by eliminating service fees at terminals and state ports. Also, effective April 1, the Government will reduce by half the scanning fee for exported and imported containers. Specifically, the fee will be dropped from US$32 to US$16 for 40-foot containers, and from US$20 to US$10 for 20-foot containers. Additionally, electricity rates will be reduced by $0.02 per kilowatt-hour for industrial users, and plans are currently underway to further reduce prices for skill-based and high-capital industries.

Inaugural Digital Cambodia 2019 Conference Concludes with Positive Growth Outlook

 

On Mach 15-17, Cambodia’s first digital technology conference, Digital Cambodia 2019: Toward Industry 4.0, took place in Phnom Penh. The Royal Government of Cambodia has said that the purpose of the conference is to achieve five primary goals:
 

  • Establishing a national platform to showcase Cambodia as an attractive foreign investment destination in the digital and ICT space;
  • Encouraging new digital technology startups, promoting entrepreneurship, and innovation;
  • Exchanging ideas and discussing trends and challenges in the technology sector;
  • Discussing progress of the development of policies, legal framework, and education under which Cambodia’s digital economy may thrive; and
  • Creating a venue for entrepreneurs and startups to develop their network, and meet potential investors.

During the conference, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth said that the Cambodian economy is moving away from a basic agrarian model to one that is more technology-driven and centered on services and industry. The country’s digital economy has in fact been progressing steadily every year, with new businesses emerging in digital payment, online entertainment, and e-commerce. DPM Aun Pornmoniroth added that the Government continues to prioritize the development of the digital economy by revising and formulating policies to promote the use of new and emerging of technologies in business and developing human capacity and skills to best utilize these new technologies. The Government will also attempt to mitigate possible risks arising from these developments through appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks. However, DPM Aun Pornmoniroth said Cambodia’s digital economy remains in its nascent stage and would need at least a decade to lay the groundwork for digital readiness. During this time, the government pledges to develop and implement a long-term digital economy strategic framework, which will provide a path for both local SMEs and large conglomerates to connect to regional and global digital economy value chains.

While Cambodia is a developing country, its growth prospects and its ability to leapfrog are encouraging. Cambodia possesses a fast-growing youth population that is educated and technology savvy, meaning that it has contributed to the high mobile and internet penetration rate (100% and 84% respectively, according to Ministry of Economy and Finance statistics), fast technological spillover from FDI inflows, and comparatively rapid digitization in all key economic sectors. Nevertheless, Cambodia’s development still faces challenges. According to the World Bank, rising costs of living have made it difficult to continue to export low-value goods, and receiving less generous donor packages, particularly from the United States and the European Union amidst ongoing political tensions, can be an obstacle to continued development.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Multilateral Trade Agreements
Cambodia looks to free trade deal with EAEU

Regional Affairs
Linking BRI with Cambodia’s rectangular development
CLV negotiations make headway

National Affairs
Education is Government’s Topmost Priority: Cambodian PM Hun Sen
Exiled Cambodian Opposition Leaders Are Indicted as Prime Minister Tightens Grip
The Mirage of a Cambodia Palace Coup
Cambodia’s foreign policy: Sovereignty, self-reliance and diversification
Citizens urged to not worry about Chinese investment
Why the EU should try to understand Cambodia

Defense & Security
What’s in the New Philippines-Cambodia Defense Meeting?
PH, Cambodia boost defense ties
Cambodia strengthens military ties with the US
China and Cambodia Hold Their Biggest Military Exercise Yet

Economics
Cambodia announces 17-point strategy to promote economic growth
PM announces major reforms, Business, Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia takes measures to promote local products
Cambodia PM Hun Sen Says Port Fees Play Key Role In Attracting Global Investments
Public companies to have access to low-interest loans
Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen Unveils ‘Strategy’ to Offset Loss of EU Trade Scheme
Prime Minister to meet with private sector today
Cambodia has repaid 8 percent of its debt: report
Cambodia: Between ‘democracy’ and ‘development’
Cambodia will gain economic sovereignty and national pride, says Phillip Bank
Commerce Minister pitches for more US investments
Cambodia Faces Major Economic Blow as E.U. Weighs Ending Trade Deal
Cambodian Ministry of Economy Proposes One-Stop Platform For Centralized Business Services
Economic reforms on the horizon: Hun Sen

Energy
Strong Demand for Gas to Power Generation in Cambodia - OilVoice
Cambodia to buy 200 megawatts from Laos
Angkor Gold CEO: Cambodia’s Oil and Gas Industry is Ready to Boom

Financial Services
Reacquainting with Riel
NBC: Using the Riel will help to boost the Kingdom’s economy, Business, Phnom Penh Post
Riel message from NBC governor , Supplements, Special Reports, Phnom Penh Post

Food & Agriculture
Cambodia’s black pepper looks to international market | #AsiaNewsNetwork
Cambodia pledges support to WFP's 5-year country strategic plan
Cambodia Requests More Loans from the Bank of China to Further Develop Agricultural Sector
PM Reminds One Million-Ton Rice Export Target
Drought warning leads Cambodian government to tell rice farmers not to plant
Kingdom sees minimal change in rice exports between 2016-2018

Health & Life Sciences
The woman aiming to transform healthcare sector in Cambodia 

ICT
Government bracing for digital economy , Business, Phnom Penh Post
US, China Face Off Over 5G in Cambodia
Cambodia / Ready for a (digital) revolution?
Cambodia squeezes online speech despite threat of EU backlash
Full-fledged digital economy not likely in the next decade: Minister
Smart’s fund invests in local tech startups
Cambodia Telecommunications Market 2019-2025

Infrastructure
Property Investing: The appeal of Cambodia
Cambodia's property sector rises above politics
Experts: S Reap ‘next Sihanoukville’
Work begins on Cambodia’s first motorway, thanks to $2bn of Chinese funding
Government says ‘yes’ to Japan’s smart city initiative
Riverside plots await development
Property developer Creed plots own course in Cambodia

Travel & Tourism
Cambodia to label major attractions ‘Supreme Tourism Sites’
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Multilateral Trade Agreements

Cambodia looks to free trade deal with EAEU The Cambodia Daily 25th Mar 2019
Cambodia is negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), a common market comprised of five nations of the former Soviet Union, hoping the new market will maintain the Kingdom’s economic growth. The EAEU – comprised of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, with 183 million people and a combined GDP of $2.2 trillion (Bt70 trillion) – would be a new market for Cambodian firms.

Regional Affairs

Linking BRI with Cambodia’s rectangular development Khmer Times 26th Mar 2019
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an ambitious international cooperation and connectivity project initiated by China in 2013. Cambodia is one of the staunchest supporters of the initiative with the expectation that BRI will contribute to peace and shared prosperity. As a small and open economy, Cambodia is committed to building an open and inclusive international system.

CLV negotiations make headway Khmer Times 11th Mar 2019
Following a meeting of high-ranking officials last weekend in Kratie province, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam (CLV) have agreed on nearly two-thirds of an action plan to promote economic connectivity in the area. The 12th meeting of the Joint Coordination Committee on Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Development Triangle Area (CLV DTA JCC) took place over the weekend in the riverine city. Sok Sopheak, secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, presented the results of the meeting yesterday, explaining that significant progress was achieved on the action plan up to 2030 for economic connectivity in CLV DTA. “The three countries’ working groups will continue discussions to finalise the draft action plan on CLV’s economic connectivity, which will be approved and signed in the presence of the prime ministers of the three countries,” he said. The Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Development Triangle Area was established in 1999 and initially included Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, and Dak Nong provinces in Vietnam, Sekong, Attapeu and Saravan provinces in Laos, and Stung Treng, Ratanakkiri, and Mondulkiri provinces in Cambodia. In 2009, the three countries agreed to add Vietnam’s Binh Phuoc province, Cambodia’s Kratie province, and Laos’ Champasak province to the area. Cooperation in CLV DTA focuses on the fields of security, external affairs, transport, industry, agriculture, trade, investment, and environmental protection.

National Affairs

Education is Government’s Topmost Priority: Cambodian PM Hun Sen The Cambodia Daily 29th Mar 2019
Strengthening the education sector is a top priority for the Cambodian government, says Prime Minister Hun Sen. He said they will be expanding scholarships for outstanding and underprivileged students. Sen said he appreciated the efforts of the ministry as well as lecturers, teachers, students, parents, communities and the local authorities for contributing to the development of Cambodia’s education system.

Exiled Cambodian Opposition Leaders Are Indicted as Prime Minister Tightens Grip The New York Times 19th Mar 2019
For the past two decades, he has been rolling back democratic standards put in place by the United Nations in the early 1990s, clipping the wings of nongovernmental organizations and human rights groups. “Under Hun Sen, it’s a crime to be an opposition politician inside Cambodia,” said Brad Adams, executive director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch. “Even though he dissolved the opposition and took every seat in last year’s sham election, now Hun Sen wants to make it a crime to oppose the government from halfway around the world. It looks like an unpopular dictator is hitting the panic button.”

The Mirage of a Cambodia Palace Coup The Diplomat 14th Mar 2019
Despite having failed to return to Cambodia from exile on March 3 despite a very public wager with Prime Minister Hun Sen that he would do so, Sam Rainsy, the Cambodian opposition figure who is today the acting-president of the now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), continues to be causing trouble on a range of fronts that may draw attention but are unlikely to have any real impact on the country’s politics.

Cambodia’s foreign policy: Sovereignty, self-reliance and diversification Khmer Times 12th Mar 2019
The annual conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation last week highlighted three key words in the formulation of Cambodia’s foreign policy in the new era: sovereignty, self-reliance, and diversification. Sovereignty has been regarded as the core principle and interest of foreign policy, especially amidst mounting diplomatic and economic pressures from the European Union. Prime Minister Hun Sen has continually stressed that Cambodia will never compromise or surrender sovereignty for foreign assistance. Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn has also emphasised that sovereignty is a matter of survival for Cambodia.

Citizens urged to not worry about Chinese investment Khmer Times 11th Mar 2019
Government spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday called on the public to not worry about losing territorial sovereignty due to an influx of Chinese investment in the Kingdom. Mr Siphan said citizens have been concerned about losing Preah Sihanouk province amid increasing Chinese investment. “We have seen thousands of Chinese criminals arrested and deported – this is a show of our intent to manage the situation,” he said. “The Chinese brought money to invest in Cambodia. People in Kampong Som benefited from selling land to Chinese investors, but the Chinese do not own the land.”

Why the EU should try to understand Cambodia Khmer Times 8th Mar 2019
The European Union’s coercive measures or scare tactics do not seem to yield intended results as the Cambodian government refuses to give in to the EU’s demands for improving core human rights and labour rights in the Kingdom. Though the European Union could succeed in withdrawing Cambodia’s EBA status, the EU also has to be prepared to accept the fact that it could fail to reverse the perceived deterioration of human rights and democracy in the country, argues Kimkong Heng. 

Defense & Security

What’s in the New Philippines-Cambodia Defense Meeting? The Diplomat 1st Apr 2019
Earlier this month, the Philippines and Cambodia finally held the first iteration of a new defense cooperation meeting that both sides had formally agreed to back in 2017. Though few details were publicly issued about the nature of the meeting, it nonetheless highlighted the ongoing collaboration between the two countries in the security realm that has been more in the spotlight in recent years. While the Philippines and Cambodia have a contemporary diplomatic relationship that stretches back to 1957, defense ties have developed at a much slower pace relative to other aspects of ties. Collaboration in the defense space has been quite basic, and aspects that have been previously publicly disclosed have been focused on areas like exchanges and visits, and areas such as addressing law enforcement, transnational crimes, and terrorism, amid some continued differences on issue areas such as the South China Sea.

PH, Cambodia boost defense ties The Cambodia Daily 27th Mar 2019
The Philippines and Cambodia have agreed to boost defense cooperation and bilateral relations to address security problems in the region, the Department of National Defense (DND) said on Tuesday. DND spokesman Arsenio Andolong disclosed that Manila and Phnom Penh held their Inaugural Joint Defense Cooperation Committee (JDCC) earlier this month in Cambodia, attended by Defense Undersecretary Ricardo David and General Neang Phat, secretary of state of the Cambodian Ministry of National Defense.

Cambodia strengthens military ties with the US The Cambodia Daily 22nd Mar 2019
Cambodia and the US on Tuesday signed a bilateral military cooperation agreement covering this year and next, with the aim of strengthening ties in humanitarian affairs, education and military training. The agreement was secured through a bilateral military dialogue at the Ministry of National Defence between Suon Samnang, the ministry’s General Department of Politics and Foreign Affairs deputy director-general, and Scott Burnside, the Pacific-US Command’s Southeast Asia policy director.

China and Cambodia Hold Their Biggest Military Exercise Yet The Diplomat 21st Mar 2019
Last week, China and Cambodia kicked off what amounts to the biggest iteration of a bilateral military exercise seen between the two countries yet. The engagement was just another demonstration of the significance of the defense ties between the two sides and Cambodia’s greater drift toward China as the ruling party under Prime Minister Hun Sen looks to further consolidate its power following an election victory.

Economics

Cambodia announces 17-point strategy to promote economic growth Vietnamplus.vn 1st Apr 2019
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced plans to reform the nation’s economy on a large scale with a 17-point strategy, aiming to stimulate growth and save the private sector some 400 million USD per year in costs. The strategy includes a series of savings initiatives for private businesses, including cutting costs related to transport, port services, and electricity, as well as reforming railway management.

PM announces major reforms, Business, Phnom Penh Post Phnom Penh Post 1st Apr 2019
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday announced government plans for large-scale economic reforms, outlining a 17-point strategy to stimulate economic growth that he said could save the private sector up to $400 million a year. The strategy included a number of key money-saving initiatives for private businesses, including reducing costs associated with shipping, port service fees and electricity, as well as a reform of railway operation management.

Cambodia takes measures to promote local products vietnamplus.vn 1st Apr 2019
The Cambodian Ministry of Tourism said it will take strong measures to increase the share of local products used by local firms, particularly those in the hospitality industry. The aim of the initiative is to reduce imports of goods that can be produced in the country, with the government estimating that Cambodia loses between 300-400 million USD in revenue each year because local hospitality firms, including restaurants and hotels, are not sourcing their products locally. Speaking on the sidelines of a recent workshop on local product promotion, Minister of Tourism Thong Khon said a working group was established to boost the production of agricultural goods and handicrafts for use by domestic restaurants and hotels.

Cambodia PM Hun Sen Says Port Fees Play Key Role In Attracting Global Investments Business Times 1st Apr 2019
Cambodia is planning to attract more overseas investors and in line with this goal, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said port fees will play a major role in securing global investments. During the 18th Royal Government-Private Sector Forum at the Peace Palace held on Friday, the Cambodian leader noted that the country's two largest ports, Phnom Penh Autonomous Port and Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, could help boost the economy if shipping companies effectively handle service fees.

Public companies to have access to low-interest loans Khmer Times 31st Mar 2019
CSX hopes the new services announced by Bank for Investment and Development of Cambodia and Canadia Bank will encourage more companies to list on the bourse. CSX hopes the new services announced by Bank for Investment and Development of Cambodia and Canadia Bank will encourage more companies to list on the bourse. The Bank for Investment and Development of Cambodia and Canadia Bank, two of the three cash settlement agents operating in the country, on Friday launched new services for companies listed in the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX).

Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen Unveils ‘Strategy’ to Offset Loss of EU Trade Scheme Radio Free Asia 29th Mar 2019
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday unveiled his strategy to offset the loss of a preferential trade agreement that the European Union is likely to withdraw in response to his government’s failure to reverse rollbacks on democracy, saying he is “done taking orders” from other countries. Speaking during a three-hour forum hosted in the capital Phnom Penh, Hun Sen told civil servants, members of the private sector, and other stakeholders—including diplomats and the EU ambassador to Cambodia, George Edgar—that his government “won’t bow down” to anyone in return for aid or other handouts, and “has had enough” of other nations trying to dictate Cambodia’s internal affairs.

Prime Minister to meet with private sector today Khmer Times 28th Mar 2019
The Government-Private Sector Forum (G-PSF), an annual event where businesses get to address their concerns directly to the prime minister, will be held today at Phnom Penh’s Peace Palace. This year’s G-PSF, the 18th iteration, will add three new working groups – education, health, and property and construction – to the ten existing ones. The Government-Private Sector Forum was established in 1999 at the behest of Prime Minister Hun Sen to provide a reliable dialogue mechanism for consultation between the government and the private sector. Issues addressed at the forum range from long-range policy to the day-to-day operations of private companies.

Cambodia has repaid 8 percent of its debt: report Khmer Times 27th Mar 2019
From 1993 to 2018, the government repaid $1.3 billion of its debt to development partners, roughly 8 percent of the country’s external debt, according to an official report on the country’s public debt. In the same 25-year period, the government has signed concessional loan agreements to the tune of $11.3 billion, the report, issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, says. The government disbursed $7.2 billion, around 64 percent of total money borrowed. Just over 87 percent was used to finance infrastructure projects, while approximately 13 percent was used for projects in other priority sectors.

Cambodia: Between ‘democracy’ and ‘development’ Khmer Times 27th Mar 2019
Cambodia has a vision to become an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income economy by 2050. Nonetheless, this vision has met many distractions both domestically and internationally. Many expectations and concerns have been expressed relating to Cambodia’s future, as a vibrant democracy with a flourishing economy. Despite being a fast growing economy and great achiever of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Cambodia is still a young country in terms of demography and state building. These structural challenges cannot be taken for granted.

Cambodia will gain economic sovereignty and national pride, says Phillip Bank Phnom Penh Post 25th Mar 2019
The demand for riel is changing with changes in the socio-economic climate of the Kingdom. Phillip Bank Plc’s General Manager Han Peng Kwang says the usage of riel is more widespread as awareness is growing  - a clear testimony that the national currency is gaining popularity. In an interview with The Post he explains the role of the riel and its challenges. well.

Commerce Minister pitches for more US investments Khmer Times 25th Mar 2019
Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak is urging more American companies to follow in the footsteps of Coca Cola Company and invest in Cambodia. Mr Sorasak made the call during the inauguration of Coca Cola’s Aqua Tower, a water purification tower, in Kampong Cham province on Friday. “I take this opportunity to call on foreign investors, especially from the US, to continue to believe in the government’s leadership and to invest more in Cambodia and emulate Coca-Cola’s successful experiences,” he said. “At the same time, I would like to inform that the government is committed to promoting the business environment and has deepened reforms to strengthen Cambodia’s competitiveness by reducing bureaucracy, modernizing technology and telecommunications, reducing electricity prices and building physical infrastructure.”

Cambodia Faces Major Economic Blow as E.U. Weighs Ending Trade Deal The New York Times 24th Mar 2019
Cambodia faces a serious blow to its economy as the European Union investigates the government’s deteriorating human rights record and considers revoking a special trading deal with the country. For 17 years, Cambodia has benefited from preferential access to the European Union a major trading partner, under a program called Everything but Arms, which allows what the bloc calls “vulnerable developing countries” to pay fewer or no duties on all their exports to the bloc, except weapons and ammunition. The trading deal has contributed to a period of rapid economic growth in Cambodia.

Cambodian Ministry of Economy Proposes One-Stop Platform For Centralized Business Services Business Times 20th Mar 2019
The Cambodian Ministry of Economy and Finance has just proposed a one-stop platform that aims to cater to all business-related concerns and applications. The move is part of the government's efforts in boosting domestic businesses. According to the Khmer Times, Cambodia is ranked 138th among 190 countries under the World Bank's list of countries that provide easier business applications. The initiative was presented to help the country ascend in ranks and provide entrepreneurs with a single platform for registering their businesses.

Economic reforms on the horizon: Hun Sen Khmer Times 20th Mar 2019
Prime Minister Hun Sen is appealing to the business community to keep their trade and investments within the Kingdom as the government is working on in-depth economic reforms in order to create a friendlier business environment. In a Facebook post yesterday, Mr Hun Sen said the government will introduce the reforms on March 29. He added that the reforms will bring about an independent economic system for the Kingdom.

Energy

Strong Demand for Gas to Power Generation in Cambodia - OilVoice Oil Voice 1st Apr 2019
Surrounded by bigger international players from neighbouring countries, Cambodia's potential to import LNG has always been overlooked till recently.  Announcements of interests by Russia and Indonesia to develop Cambodia's LNG infrastructure in Cambodia depicts the immense opportunity for gas to power in Cambodia. As one of the fastest growing economy amongst other ASEAN countries, with growth of more than than 7% annually for the past decade, Cambodia is a high potential country for investment. According to the latest ranking by Market Potential Index, Cambodia is ranked 37th in the world for investment.

Cambodia to buy 200 megawatts from Laos Khmer Times 24th Mar 2019
The country’s energy supply is expected to rise by 16.12 percent in 2019. Cambodia will buy 200 megawatts from Laos to feed rising demand for power in the Kingdom. Electricite du Cambodge has signed an agreement to purchase 200 MW from Laos from 2019 to 2021. The tariff at which the power will be sold has not been revealed. With power consumption on the rise, Cambodia needs to increase energy imports, said Ty Norin, secretary of state at Ministry of Mines and Energy.

Angkor Gold CEO: Cambodia’s Oil and Gas Industry is Ready to Boom Investing News Network 24th Mar 2019
Angkor Gold CEO Stephen Burega believes Cambodia has the potential to be a mining leader due to its excellent geology and stable political environment. Burega believes that the prime minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Hun Sen, “is looking to better the country and economy, which is creating a very stable scenario.” In the interview below, Burega discusses the company’s announcement in February 2019 regarding its interest in entering the oil and gas industry in Cambodia, where it has “applied for and [is] in final negotiations with the government for an oil block.”

Financial Services

Reacquainting with Riel Khmer Times 28th Mar 2019
The Kingdom’s dollarised economy thus far has not hindered overall economic growth and the development of the financial sector, as proven in the findings of surveys by the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). It has, in fact, stabilised the economy and brought in many major investments into the country. However, with the US dollar dominating daily transactions, this leaves the local currency in an odd place, constantly coming in second in its own financial ecosystem. The NBC-JICA surveys, for instance, found that foreign currency is still preferred particularly for large transactions.

NBC: Using the Riel will help to boost the Kingdom’s economy, Business, Phnom Penh Post Khmer Times 27th Mar 2019
Encouraging the use of riel will help contribute to Cambodia’s economic growth despite low usage rates in the Kingdom’s economy, according to National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) deputy governor Neav Chanthana. According to a joint survey by NBC and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), the ratio of Cambodian riel in the income and expenditure of households and enterprises increased slightly between 2014 and 2017.

Riel message from NBC governor , Supplements, Special Reports, Phnom Penh Post Phnom Penh Post 25th Mar 2019
Today the National Bank of Cambodia proudly celebrates the 39th anniversary of the re-introduction of the riel (March 20, 1980 – March 20, 2019). This historical event restored the national sovereignty and marked one of the victories of Cambodia after the liberation from the Khmer Rouge regime on January 7, 1979 and the re-establishment of the National Bank of Cambodia on October 10, 1979. The riel was re-introduced after its absence from circulation during the Khmer Rouge regime which destroyed the backbone of the economy; indeed, the banking and financial system was abolished; and the Khmer riel was eliminated. After the liberation in January 1979, people bartered with remnants of gold, jewellery, or goods.

Food & Agriculture

Cambodia’s black pepper looks to international market | #AsiaNewsNetwork Eleven Media 1st Apr 2019
Soeng Sopha, the general manager of Sela Pepper, a pepper processing and packaging firm based in the province, sat down with The Post’s Cheng Sokhorng to discuss the challenges to be overcome, the market and how to promote growth in the sector.

Cambodia pledges support to WFP's 5-year country strategic plan The Cambodia Daily 30th Mar 2019
Cambodia signed on Thursday to support the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) country strategic plan (2019-2023), aiming at addressing food security and nutrition challenges in the country. The Letter of Understanding on the WFP country strategic plan was inked here between Cambodian Foreign Ministry secretary of state Luy David and WFP-Cambodia country Director Francesca Erdelmann. David said the WFP country strategic plan is in line with the Cambodia’s Rectangular Strategy Phase 4, which aims to build the foundation for a vision to achieve the goal of transforming Cambodia into an upper-middle-income country by 2030 and a high-income country by 2050.

Cambodia Requests More Loans from the Bank of China to Further Develop Agricultural Sector Agence Kampuchea Presse 19th Mar 2019
Minister of Commerce H.E. Pan Sorasak has requested the Bank of China to provide more loans to Cambodia to further develop its agriculture, said a news release of the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) issued after the minister’s recent meeting with Mr. Chen Changjiang, CEO of the bank’s Phnom Penh branch. The MoC, according to H.E. Minister, was implementing on-site rice dryer construction projects in order to help buy rice from the farmers directly and increase the country’s rice-export capacity, emphasising that the loans from the bank would help the ministry succeed in these projects. H.E. Minister also thanked the Bank of China for their investment in Cambodia and their contributions in attracting more Chinese investors into the country. Mr. Chen Changjiang accepted the request and would see to its actual possibilities. He also requested H.E. Minister to sign the Memorandum of Understanding between the MoC and the Bank of China in order to create a Chinese desk at the ministry to facilitate Chinese businessmen in the country, give way to payment through WeChatPay or Alipay, and cooperate in e-commerce sector.

PM Reminds One Million-Ton Rice Export Target Agence Kampuchea Presse 14th Mar 2019
Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen reminded here this morning about the milled rice export target of one million tons that the country has failed to achieved in the past years. Addressing to the closing ceremony of the annual meeting of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Samdech Techo Hun Sen said the rice production cost in Cambodia is high and he therefore called on all the stakeholders, especially the MAFF, the Ministry of Water Resources, and Meteorology, to do their best to help reducing the production cost. “We never win the bidding to export our rice to the Philippines against Viet Nam and Thailand because our cost of production is high, so all stakeholders should check this point […]”, he underlined. At the same time, Samdech Techo Hun Sen encouraged all stakeholders to promote the Cambodian milled rice’s potential, conduct research and increase the competiveness of local milled rice as well as other agro-products, etc.  The Premier also urged the private sector to invest in potential products to support the agriculture such as agro-fertiliser … to reduce the spending on imported fertilisers to help local farmers. Last year, Cambodia exported 626,225 tons of milled rice to markets in 62 countries – of them China was Cambodia’s largest market buying 27.17 percent or 170,154 tons of the export, followed by France and Malaysia buying 86,050 tons and 40,861 tons of it respectively, according to a report from Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality.

Drought warning leads Cambodian government to tell rice farmers not to plant AsiaNews 12th Mar 2019
Water shortages have been reported in 16 Cambodian provinces. El Niño is behind higher-than-average temperatures. About 75 per cent of Cambodia is farmland, devoted mostly to growing rice. The authorities hand out fertiliser and water to affected communities. Phnom Penh (AsiaNews) – Cambodian rice farmers should refrain from planting crops because of a drought and record high temperatures. The cause is this year’s El Nino with temperatures expected to peak in April and May, warned Neth Pheaktra, spokesman and secretary of state for the Cambodian Environment Ministry. Communities in 16 provinces around the Kingdom have reported water shortages due to higher than average temperatures – a stark reality in a nation more used to dealing with floods than droughts. A tributary of the Tonle Sap River in Kampong Thom province has dried out. As a result, a local rice farmer said he had been relying on eating lotus roots to survive. About 75 per cent of the country’s farmland is devoted to growing rice. Cambodia exports about three per cent of the world’s supply, according to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).

Kingdom sees minimal change in rice exports between 2016-2018 Phnom Penh Post 7th Mar 2019
The Kingdom’s rice exports saw little change during the last three years to 2018 as the sector appears to face new challenges requiring the government and private sector to work harder to keep the industry healthy. The challenges are centred around the EU market as the bloc imposes tariffs on Cambodia’s rice, added on to existing issues such as higher production costs and a lack of infrastructure. However, industry insiders said the volume of this year’s rice exports will remain steady due to a new quota from China and Vietnam. Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries figures show that the Kingdom exported 626,225 tonnes of rice last year, decreasing 1.5 per cent from 635,679 tonnes in 2017. The figures show that the main destinations were the EU with a total of 269,127 tonnes and China with 170,154 tonnes.

Health & Life Sciences

The woman aiming to transform healthcare sector in Cambodia  The Cambodia Daily 28th Mar 2019
Though we now live in a digital age, it is not uncommon to see nurses handwriting information or browsing physical files on the shelf searching for information in hospitals and private clinics across Cambodia. But with the technology that is on offer today, this is far from efficient. This is where the Peth Yoeung system, developed by First Womentech Asia, comes in. The web-based hospital operating management system helps the hospital work flow process, ranging from patient management, health records, appointments to pharmacy, stock management, as well as income and expenses.

ICT

Government bracing for digital economy , Business, Phnom Penh Post Phnom Penh Post 1st Apr 2019
The government has made preparing for a digital economy and responding to the Fourth Industrial Revolution a priority as the country must speed up its economic transformation for long-term growth, the Ministry of Economy and Finance has said. Speaking at the three-day Digital Cambodia 2019 event, that addressed the theme “Towards Industry 4.0” and ended on Sunday, Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth said Cambodia’s economy is moving away from basic agriculture and is becoming more centred on services and industry.

US, China Face Off Over 5G in Cambodia VOA 30th Mar 2019
For techies and phone geeks, Digital Cambodia 2019 was the place to be. More than a dozen high school students clustered at the booth for Cellcard, Cambodia’s leading mobile operator. Under the booth’s 5G sign, they played video games on their phones. Hak Kimheng, a ninth grade student in Phnom Penh, said his mom bought him a Samsung smartphone a few months ago, when he moved to the capital city from nearby Kandal province to live with his uncle while attending school. Like moms everywhere, she thought the smartphone would help her stay in touch with her son.

Cambodia / Ready for a (digital) revolution? Global Times 28th Mar 2019
The government in Cambodia recently hosted a digital conference that celebrated the Kingdom’s growing tech startup sector while simultaneously discussing the mounting challenges the country faces in embracing digitisation – before the digital revolution leaves Cambodia behind

Cambodia squeezes online speech despite threat of EU backlash Nikkei Asian Review 18th Mar 2019
Even as the European Union readies to visit Cambodia this week to decide whether the country should be removed from a preferential trade scheme due to lack of political reforms, Prime Minister Hun Sen is trying to enact two laws that could further stifle online speech, a move certain to rile EU negotiators. Hun Sen pushed his ministers earlier this month to consider new legislation aimed at curbing "fake news" and to speed up drafting a cybercrime law, which was first proposed in 2012.

Full-fledged digital economy not likely in the next decade: Minister Khmer Times 12th Mar 2019
Digital technologies will give Cambodia the opportunity to leapfrog traditional stages of development, but it will take the country at least 10 years to complete the transition into a full-fledged digital economy, the minister of economy and finance said yesterday. Speaking during a two-day national consultation workshop on Cambodia’s digital economy, Minister Aun Pornmoniroth said the country’s digital economy has been taking shape gradually, with new businesses joining the digital payment, online entertainment and e-commerce sectors every year.

Smart’s fund invests in local tech startups Khmer Times 12th Mar 2019
Smart Axiata Digital Innovation Fund (SADIF) expanded its investment into two more promising local digital businesses, a move that will contribute to the development of the Kingdom’s digital economy. SADIF is Cambodia’s first digital venture capital fund. It is managed by Mekong Strategic Partners with investments from Smart Axiata and Forte Insurance. Okra, an IT firm that focuses on solar energy technology, and Sousdey, which provides chatbot solutions for Facebook messenger, will benefit from the resources and experience of the fund.

Cambodia Telecommunications Market 2019-2025 Industry Today 7th Mar 2019
The Cambodia Telecommunications report – 8th series provides a complete view of the Cambodia telecom ecosystem along with trends and growth factors shaping the future of the market. The future value proposition for telecommunications market in Cambodia to 2025 is detailed in the report. It also provides imperatives for gaining market share in highly competitive telecom industry. It provides unmatched depth and breadth into drivers, challenges, tariffs, competition, subscriber behaviour, infrastructure, regulatory support and others. The report presents detailed insights into Cambodia mobile communication, fixed telephone and fixed broadband markets. Subscriber count and penetration rates are forecast for each of the sub-sectors including cellular, fixed landline and broadband segments from 2005 to 2018 and 2019 to 2025.

Infrastructure

Property Investing: The appeal of Cambodia The Cambodia Daily 1st Apr 2019
Cambodia, considered a frontier market, has been experiencing strong economic expansion over the past few decades. Its open-door policy on foreign investment, coupled with attractive returns, has managed to turn the country into one of the most highly sought-after destinations for property investments in the region, according to real estate agents and a property investor. Cambodia’s real estate sector has seen tremendous growth in the last several years. Due to a healthy inflow of internal and external investments, there has been a flurry of non-stop construction work in cities such as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, says Malay Nop, branch manager at real estate firm IPS Cambodia.

Cambodia's property sector rises above politics Property Report 1st Apr 2019
Cambodia’s real estate sector has achieved unprecedented growth in the past few years as excitement builds around big shiny condos. Indeed, real estate has been one of the country’s best performing sectors in recent years and one of the pistons powering the economy. Fears, however, have been surfacing that the huge supply of units coming onto the market would propel it headlong into a bubble. Whilst no such disaster has materialized, with secondary markets having provided a lifeline, signs of softening have emerged.

Experts: S Reap ‘next Sihanoukville’ Khmer Times 26th Mar 2019
Siem Reap has always been the main tourist hub of Cambodia. In recent years, however, southern Sihanoukville has been stealing the real estate spotlight. Chinese investment in the coastal province has fuelled the biggest property boom in the Kingdom’s history. Some say Templetown is set to follow a similar path. Others contend it will be more of a gradual process. Realestate.com.kh’s Ky Kosal spoke to four Siem Reap property experts to get their opinions.

Work begins on Cambodia’s first motorway, thanks to $2bn of Chinese funding GCR 25th Mar 2019
China Road and Bridge Corp has broken ground on Cambodia’s first-ever motorway, a $2bn four-lane link stretching 190km between Phnom Penh and the southwestern port city of Sihanoukville. China Road and Bridge signed a build-operate-transfer contract last year in which it undertook to meet all the costs of the project. The project will widen Cambodia’s busiest freight corridor, a chronically congested two-lane road. When complete in 2023, the journey is expected to be cut from five hours to two.

Government says ‘yes’ to Japan’s smart city initiative Khmer Times 25th Mar 2019
The government has agreed to a Japanese initiative that seeks to drive investment in the development of smart cities in the Kingdom. According to an announcement issued yesterday by the Ministry of Land Management, the government has agreed to a series of ‘smart city principles’ – which deal mostly with urban management and the use of IT to develop modern urban spaces – thus effectively joining the Public-Private Platform for Urban Development between Cambodia and Japan.

Riverside plots await development Khmer Times 8th Mar 2019
Phnom Penh is a city defined by rivers. It sits at the point where four waterways intersect. The Tonle Sap, Tonle Mekong Leu, Tonle Mekong Krom and Tonle Bassac all connect in the Kingdom’s capital. Why then, is the riverside area still waiting to see major real estate development? Though there are a few ongoing projects there, and a few in the pipeline, the area has yet to take off in terms of investment. This sits in contrast to other areas of Phnom Penh such as the central business district, BKK1 and Toul Kork which have all seen numerous projects across many different industries.

Property developer Creed plots own course in Cambodia Nikkei Asian Review 18th Mar 2019
Toshihiko Muneyoshi, CEO of Japanese real estate developer Creed, leads a charmed life in Cambodia. His spacious home in northeastern Phnom Penh near the Mekong River -- purchased in 2012 for 60 million yen ($538,000) -- includes a 2-meter deep swimming pool and a live-in cook and chauffeur. The residence is often the destination of powerful business leaders on visits from Japan, with whom Muneyoshi shares insights on Cambodia and the region. Muneyoshi's home is not the only thing whose value is skyrocketing in Cambodia. The economy of the Southeast Asian country is also roaring, hitting 7.2% in 2015 and 7.0% in 2016 and 2017. "Broadly speaking, economic growth is affected by demographics," Muneyoshi said. "An economy keeps growing as long as the population keeps rising." Cambodia exemplifies Muneyoshi's theory: Its young and expanding population is the country's main growth driver. The population increased on average 1.6% annually from 2014 through 2016, marking one of the steepest growth rates in Asia. Though Cambodia is a growing market, investment strategies here differ from other countries in the region. For example, in Vietnam, Creed invested with An Gia Investment, a local property developer, to gain a foothold in the country. But this strategy does not work in Cambodia due to its still maturing economy. In other words, there are no suitable partners for Creed. Hence, the company has adopted a more hands-on approach, doing everything from training green recruits with no knowledge of the construction business to building condominiums and other residences without local contractors.

Travel & Tourism

Cambodia to label major attractions ‘Supreme Tourism Sites’ Eleven Media 11th Mar 2019
Industry insiders welcomed the sub-decree, saying it would help the Kingdom diversify its tourist attractions with effective management and control to attract more visitors. The sub-decree, which was signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday, is aiming to develop tourism products, attract more local and international visitors and boost development in the tourism sector to advance the country’s economic growth. According to the sub-decree, potential sites, which are to be determined by the government, must consist of all services such as food and drinks, accommodation, rest and recreation facilities, sports centres, tourism health-care centres and others related services.