Cambodia Update: May 23, 2019

Cambodia Update | May 23, 2019
Author: Jack Myint
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
May 30: Cambodia Committee Call with Charge d' Affaires Michael Newbill, U.S. Embassy, Phnom Penh
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

China’s Influence Continues to Grow Across Key Sectors in Cambodia

From April 25-27 Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen attended the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing. Though leaders from all 10 ASEAN countries also attended the forum, Hun Sen’s presence at the event underscored the extent of China’s growing influence in Cambodia across various key sectors of its economy and the political, military-to-military, and social implications of this bilateral relationship.

Economically, China is currently Cambodia’s largest foreign investor, aid donor, trading partner, and source of tourism. One of the first countries to welcome the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) after its launch in 2013, Cambodia has benefited significantly in bilateral trade and investment as part of the BRI framework. One of the key anchors of the BRI in Cambodia is the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), which after its first phase of development, has already established 100 factories employing over 20,000 local Cambodian workers in the low-skilled manufacturing industry. Upon completion of the second phase, the economic zone will be able to host up to 300 companies and employ over 100,000 local workers.

The SSEZ has also paved the way for the construction of the Phnom Penh–Sihanoukville Expressway, which upon completion will complement the existing national road connecting Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville Port, Cambodia’s only international deep-sea port. China’s state-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) is responsible for the construction of the US$1.9 billion expressway project. The expressway, in addition to the ongoing construction of the airport projects in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have great potential to enhance infrastructure connectivity within Cambodia and improve logistic efficiency, reducing trade costs and deepening regional integration. On the agricultural front, China has committed to import 400,000 tons of Cambodian rice, following the EU’s refusal to import the crop due to democracy and human rights concerns, while in the ICT sector, Huawei has struck a deal with Cambodia to build out the latter's 5G network.

In terms of military-to-military ties, Cambodia and China have grown steadily closer since 2010. On the sidelines of the second BRF, China provided Cambodia with a defense grant of US$90 million, adding to the US$100 million already pledged in June 2018, making it the largest military aid donor to Cambodia. In March, the two countries held the third iteration of the “Golden Dragon” exercises, while U.S.-Cambodia joint exercises have been suspended indefinitely since January 2017. Cambodia’s deepening defense ties with China are likely to continue to make the kingdom’s ASEAN neighbors uneasy, given that some ASEAN members have territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea (SCS). In light of these deepening Sino-Cambodian ties, one consequence of the Trump administration’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy, a strategy that the administration has presented as a way to counter growing encroachment and militarization of the SCS by China (more on this topic can be found here), is that it could push Cambodia further into China’s orbit. The probability that such a development could occur is likely to become clearer when the administration presents a fuller picture of the FOIP strategy at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore later this month.

Despite deepening official ties between Cambodia and China, discontent over Chinese investments continues to grow within the local Cambodian populace. Concerns that Chinese-funded projects were secured through non-transparent means, collusion with the political elite, and with limited engagement with relevant local stakeholders abound. In addition, the common practice of staffing BRI projects with mostly Chinese nationals offers limited job opportunities to locals, except for labor-intensive work. Outside the capital Phnom Penh, basic public services often fail to keep up with the rapidly increasing economic activity. Local NGOs and civil society have raised concerns on issues such as environmental damage, land disputes, sanitation, and inflation due to a large influx of Chinese investment in the local economy. According to an investigative report by The Interpreter, problems over trash collection and the already-limited water and electricity supply are worsening. The minimal trickle-down benefits and adverse effects of Chinese investment have left many Cambodians frustrated.


World Bank Expected to Approve US$1 billion in Financial Loans to Cambodia

According to a report from the Khmer Times, later this month the World Bank is expected to approve approximately US$1 billion in financial loans to the Kingdom of Cambodia, to be dispensed over a four-year period. The purpose of the loans is to support Cambodia’s efforts in infrastructure development, labor force capacity building, and urbanization schemes. The pledged financial support is expected to boost the Cambodian economy, Cambodia's Ministry of Economy and Finance confirmed.  As of 2018, Cambodia has already received loans of US$ 1.141 billion from the World Bank for projects to promote sustainable infrastructure, education, health care and nutrition services, water and land resource management, and agriculture productivity and diversification. The World Bank praised Cambodia’s social and economic development over the years, and said it is ready to continue supporting it. Driven by the garment and tourism sectors, Cambodia’s economy has sustained an average growth rate of 7.7 percent between 1995 and 2018, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. All major financial institutions (World Bank, ADB, IMF) predict that Cambodia’s future economic outlook remains robust, with a growth rate at approximately 7 percent in the near and medium term, and a poverty rate that continues to fall across the country. Challenges remain, however, with global investor confidence towards Cambodia dropping due to domestic political tensions and potential trade sanctions, such as the withdrawal of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme and the removal of United States’ Generalized System of Preference (GSP), which would likely have a disastrous impact to the garment sector.

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Practical cooperation between Cambodia and US
Cambodia supports Japan’s Indo-Pacific Strategy
Thailand and Cambodia reopen rail and sea links as ties blossom
Cambodian PM meets Myanmar’s state councillor to boost bilateral ties
In Cambodia, even debt-free roads lead to more Chinese influence
Cambodia benefits economically from Asean
Economic cooperation with China under BRI helps Cambodia diversify economy, strengthen resilience
PM lauds Sino-Cambodian ties
Hun Sen has a ‘One China’ dilemma

National Affairs
NEC announces local elections set for May 26
Cambodia: CPP starts local council election campaign
Is the EU Wrong on Rights in Cambodia?
Hun Sen launches risky military maneuvers
CPP echoes CDI over EBA review
Cambodia’s halal strategy paves way to diversify economy away from troubled rice crop, says minister for Muslims

Economics
Ministry launches new trade strategy
Cambodia’s remittance payments reach $1.4B, Business
IMF: Economic outlook robust, Business
Trading volume at Cambodia's bourse hits all-time high
Opportunities for Cambodia - Market Insights by Enterprise Singapore’s Regional Directors
CDC approves $4 billion in investment projects
World Bank to provide $1 billion in assistance, Ministry says
EU prepares to kneecap Cambodia over human rights
World Bank: Cambodia’s economy achieves robust growth in 2018
Foreign Buyers of Cambodian Goods See Risk in Looming Trade Sanctions
Cambodia's economy grew 7.5 percent in 2018, four-year high 
China throws Hun Sen an economic lifeline 
China to Help Cambodia If EU Pulls Tariff Agreement, PM Says
Despite challenges, economy on right track with reforms
Cambodia embraces Belt and Road Initiative
Economy to grow at 7 percent this year: ADB
Cambodia fosters cross-border trade

Energy
Cambodia’s Dam Troubles, Power Woes Seen as Arguments For More Solar Energy Use
France to support development of Cambodian electrical grid
What Will It Take for Cambodia to Actually Strike Oil and Gas?
Cambodia asks Vietnam to supply more electricity
Cambodia announces hydropower, solar projects amid widespread electricity shortages
Petroleum product imports up 10 pct in 2018
Cambodia dreams of an oil gushing bonanza
Why Hun Sen can’t keep the lights on

Financial Services
Fintech is the Single Largest Sector in Cambodia's Startup Scene
National Bank of Cambodia Will Deploy Blockchain Payment System This Year

Food & Agriculture
Cambodian rice exports to China surge following EU tariffs
Cambodia: Minister of Agriculture stresses need to increase yields and quality of produce
Can Blockchain help rice farmers fight poverty?
EIB Consider Possible Projects to Support Cambodia’s Agriculture
Workshop on Animal Feed Management in Siem Reap Province

Health & Life Sciences
Maternal death rate still high
Unauthorised medicines seized
Concerns over swine fever outbreak
Military personnel called on to prevent drug abuse
Quality Free Health Care Remains Elusive for Poorest Cambodians
Student health targeted under new gov’t policy
Ministry warns of food poisoning over New Year
Draft National Policy on Academic Health Approved to Improve Education Quality
Cambodia Urges Joint Efforts for Affordable, Quality, Effective and Safe Health Services

ICT
‘Smart’ humanoid robots to serve customers at outlets in Phnom Penh , Post Focus, Phnom Penh Post
Internet users up by almost half a million in Q1
Almost 87 pct of Cambodians use internet: report
Cambodia to join World Economic Forum digital growth project
Cambodia Could Be First ASEAN Country With 5G Tech Through Huawei
Cambodia launches its first technology startup report
Linking Digital Silk Road to Cambodian digital economy
Huawei extends Asia dominance with Cambodia 5G rollout

Infrastructure
Cambodia, the Belt and Road must benefit the locals too
Economic cooperation with China under BRI helps Cambodia diversify economy, strengthen resilience
BRI and development in Cambodia
The Belt and Road in Cambodia: Successes and Challenges
Cambodia projects to benefit from improved infrastructure
Cambodian, Thai Leaders Mark Reopening of Rail Link
 
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Practical cooperation between Cambodia and US Khmer Times 22nd Apr 2019
Cambodia-US bilateral relations should be viewed beyond the paradigm of a superpower’s geopolitical rivalry. It is the principle of Cambodia’s foreign policy that seeks to make friends with all whilst being an enemy to no one. As a small state, without prejudice to the protection of sovereign independence and territorial integrity, Cambodia sees no interest in creating animosity against any powers or relying heavily on any single source of security or market access. In other words, Cambodia is implementing a hedging and diversification strategy.

Cambodia supports Japan’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Khmer Times 16th May 2019
Cambodia was the first country from Southeast Asia that registered the support for the Japan-initiated Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy (FOIP). The main reason for such move is that Cambodia perceives Japan as a benign power that sincerely assists Cambodia, from peacekeeping and peacebuilding to national reconstruction and regional integration. Japan has earned political as well as social trust from Cambodia. Moreover, Cambodia understands that Japan’s FOIP has strong economic component and fundamental principles compatible to those of Asean. Therefore, FOIP will complement to Asean connectivity and regional integration. Japan-Asean partnership and Japan-Mekong cooperation are the key instruments in concretising FOIP.

Thailand and Cambodia reopen rail and sea links as ties blossom Nikkei Asian Review 1st May 2019
Thailand and Cambodia have ramped up efforts to bolster diplomatic and economic ties with the aim of doubling bilateral trade by 2020. The neighbors revived a crossborder train link on April 22 after it laid unused for 45 years. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen took a ceremonial ride across the border from Aranyaprathet in eastern Thailand to the Cambodian city of Poipet on a train donated by Bangkok.

Cambodian PM meets Myanmar’s state councillor to boost bilateral ties The Cambodia Daily 1st May 2019
Cambodia yesterday rolled out its red carpet for Myanmar’s State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi on her official visit to the kingdom to boost bilateral ties. Suu Kyi was warmly greeted by Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen with a brass band and guard of honour at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia. The two leaders held talks with focus on cooperation in economics, culture, tourism, religion and education, Eang Sophalleth, an assistant to Hun Sen, told reporters after the meeting.

In Cambodia, even debt-free roads lead to more Chinese influence Nikkei Asian Review 29th Apr 2019
A Chinese state construction company is building Cambodia's first expressway -- without saddling the Southeast Asian country with a pile of new debt. The arrangement will help China avoid international accusations of predatory lending to developing countries, which have dogged its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative. But some skeptics say the expressway is just another way for Beijing to extend its influence, and that there might be more to the story than what has been revealed. China Road and Bridge Corp. will finance the entire project, which will connect Phnom Penh with the southern coastal city of Sihanoukville at a cost of nearly $2 billion. The company intends to recover the money by collecting tolls over 50 years.

Cambodia benefits economically from Asean Khmer Times 29th Apr 2019
30 April 2019 marks the twentieth anniversary of Cambodia’s membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). At its outset, the Kingdom regarded this membership as a means to promote its economic prosperity. Has the Kingdom achieved what it intended for? The article argues that Cambodia has overall reaped remarkable economic benefits from being the Asean membership, albeit early challenges in economic reforms. In terms of economic interest, Cambodia’s membership in Asean has bought about a considerable increase in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from both Asean member countries and the dialogue partners of Asean such as Japan, China, South Korea, Australia and the United States.

Economic cooperation with China under BRI helps Cambodia diversify economy, strengthen resilience The Cambodia Daily 22nd Apr 2019
Cambodia, a firm supporter of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) , has been benefiting in various areas through comprehensive economic cooperation with China to diversify its economy and strengthen resilience, Cambodian officials, experts told Xinhua. “For Cambodia, with Chinese assistance, we can build mega-infrastructure projects, and those projects are crucial to boosting economic growth and making communication easier and faster,” Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said. According to the recent data the Chinese Embassy to Cambodia posted in social media, China has built 31 highways and 8 bridges for Cambodia with the total length of highway up to more than 3,000 km, as well as all the hydropower stations in Cambodia.

PM lauds Sino-Cambodian ties Khmer Times 11th Apr 2019
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday reiterated his commitment to the ‘One China’ policy and stressed the role China plays in the economic development of the Kingdom. Speaking during a dinner organised by the Cambodian-Chinese Association, Mr Hun Sen said the current approach to Sino-Cambodian relations dates back to the reign of King Norodom Sihanouk, and added that Cambodia will always respect China’s unity and sovereignty.

Hun Sen has a ‘One China’ dilemma Asia Times 5th Apr 2019
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen reaffirmed last month that his government fully supports Beijing’s ‘One China’ policy, a diplomatic nod to the notion that Taiwan is a breakaway Chinese province rather than an independent state. “Taiwan is only a province of China…We allow Taiwanese companies to do business in Cambodia, but no Taiwanese flag will ever be flown here,” Hun Sen said, referring to the government’s decision in 2017 to formally ban Taiwan’s standard from flying in the country. Doing so, the leader said, “would be just like recognizing Taiwan’s independence.” Most Cambodian official ministerial documents refer to Taiwan as a “province of China.” Such high-level comments are intended to please policymakers in China, now Cambodia’s closest ally and larger provider of aid and investment.

National Affairs

NEC announces local elections set for May 26 The Cambodia Daily 21st May 2019
The National Election Committee (NEC) has announced that the upcoming third mandate municipal, provincial, town and district council elections will be held on May 26. Seven political parties are to participate. Those without councillors eligible to vote were still able to take part in polls that one party president said would “make Cambodian democracy vibrant”. National Election Committee (NEC) spokesperson Hang Puthea said on Sunday that the elections were important as Cambodia is on the path of democracy, where power comes from citizens who follow the performance of the government.

Cambodia: CPP starts local council election campaign The Cambodia Daily 19th May 2019
The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) kicked off a campaign for the provincial, municipal and district council election in Phnom Penh on May 17. The launching ceremony, which was held on Koh Pich island, was presided over by Senate President and CPP Vice Chairman Samdech Say Chhum with the participation of more than 3,500 people. In his remarks, Say Chhum highlighted the sound leadership of the CPP, helping Cambodia develop fast and reap significant achievements.

Is the EU Wrong on Rights in Cambodia? The Diplomat 17th May 2019
In February 2019, the European Union launched an 18-month process to determine whether or not to maintain Cambodia’s preferential access to the EU market under the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme. The review follows what the European Union perceives as “the deterioration of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Cambodia.”

Hun Sen launches risky military maneuvers | Article Asia Times 14th May 2019
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is overhauling his country’s powerful military, an exercise that could have implications for stability if moves are perceived to be more political than reform-oriented. But the potential for ruffled feathers is rising as Hun Manet, Hun Sen’s son and the military’s second highest ranking official, consolidates power over the rank and file and emerges as a likely dynastic successor to his father’s long-held premiership. Hun Manet, 41, was promoted last year to army commander and deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) amid a surprise reshuffle of the armed forces’ three most senior positions.

CPP echoes CDI over EBA review Khmer Times 14th May 2019
CDI was founded in 1961 and it currently has 94 political parties as members. CPP spokesman Sok Eysan yesterday responded to a resolution made by international political group Centrist Democrat International last month urging the European Union to “treat Cambodia fairly” in its Everything-but-arms trade status review. On April 10, 2019, CDI issued a resolution urging the EU to consider Cambodia’s troubled past, and how far it has gotten with the help of trade schemes such as the EBA.

Cambodia’s halal strategy paves way to diversify economy away from troubled rice crop, says minister for Muslims The Cambodia Daily 4th May 2019
Just over a year after Cambodia unveiled new halal food regulations, the country’s minister for Muslims has declared he is satisfied with the progress the community has made. “I’m very positive about Cambodia’s halal economy,” Dr Othsman Hassan, senior minister in the Prime Minister’s office in charge of Muslim affairs, told Salaam Gateway. “Now we want to promote what we can do and ask [halal] companies to look at Cambodia because we have lots of opportunities.”

Economics

Ministry launches new trade strategy Khmer Times 21st May 2019
In a bid to bolster international trade and diversify the economy, the Ministry of Commerce on Thursday launched the new version of the Cambodia Trade Integration Strategy (CTIS). The 2019-2023 Cambodia Trade Integration Strategy (the fourth CTIS) tackles all the major issues in the trade sector, according to Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak. The minister said the new strategy focuses on strengthening the country’s competitiveness to support its transition into a developed economy and to benefit from new sources of growth, particular the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “Cambodia needs to be ready and continue to undergo reforms to boost competitiveness, as well as diversify markets and production to increase exports,” he was quoted as saying in a ministry statement. “All of these goals are outlined in the government’s rectangular strategy phase IV and the fourth CTIS,” he said. He noted that the new strategy demands involvement from all ministries. Cambodia validated its first Diagnostic Trade Integration Strategy (DTIS) in 2001, which was prepared with funding support from the Integrated Framework programme. In 2007, the second DTIS was launched by Prime Minister Hun Sen. CTIS 2014-2018 marked the country’s third DTIS, which was backed by the Asian Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank.

Cambodia’s remittance payments reach $1.4B, Business, Phnom Penh Post Phnom Penh Post 21st May 2019
Funds repatriated by Cambodian migrant workers continued to rise, totalling $1.4 billion last year – an increase of 11 per cent compared to 2017 – figures from the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) revealed. NBC’s balance of payments, which record personal transfers by migrant workers to their households back home via financial institutions, showed that Thailand and South Korea were the two largest origins. They accounted for 68 per cent and 21.5 per cent respectively of total remittances. The money Cambodian workers sent from Japan accounted for 3.3 per cent, while that from Malaysia was 2.5 per cent. The true size of cross-border remittance flows should be much higher as migrant workers – especially those in neighbouring Thailand – often send money back through informal channels.

IMF: Economic outlook robust, Business, Phnom Penh Post Phnom Penh Post 21st May 2019
Cambodia's economic outlook remains robust in the near-term despite the country set to face bigger external risks and potentially lose trade privileges to its main markets, an International Monetary Fund (IMF) team has told the finance minister. An IMF team visited Phnom Penh earlier this month and met with Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth to conduct interim discussions on recent developments and the outlook for the Kingdom’s economy. It projected that Cambodia’s economic growth will remain between 6.5 and seven per cent in the near and medium term, thanks to better fiscal performance, the ministry said.

Trading volume at Cambodia's bourse hits all-time high Xinhua 21st May 2019
The Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX) recorded its highest-ever trading volume on Tuesday, exchanging 9,457,422 shares with a total value of 120.12 billion riel (29.6 million U.S. dollars), said a CSX's press release. Tuesday's trading volume broke the highest record of all time since the opening of the market in 2012, the release said. Among the five listed companies traded throughout Tuesday morning, the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (PAS) stock accounted for 99.9 percent of the Tuesday's traded shares, Kim Sophanita, director of CSX's market operations department, told Xinhua.

Opportunities for Cambodia - Market Insights by Enterprise Singapore’s Regional Directors The Business Times 21st May 2019
Cambodia has seen steady growth of around 8 per cent per annum from 1995 to 2018 and is now the sixth fastest growing economy in the world. To improve productivity and strengthen its competitiveness, Cambodia is investing in training and human capital to capture opportunities in higher-skilled industries and add value to their supply chains. This strategy is supported by the fact that Cambodia has a young population. More than half its population of 16 million people is under 25 years old – the workforce is increasingly well educated, and eager to learn and work with global companies.

CDC approves $4 billion in investment projects Khmer Times 17th May 2019
The government approved $4 billion worth of investment projects during the first four months of the year, the Council for the Development of Cambodia recently revealed. From January to April this year, the value of investments approved more than tripled compared to the same period in 2018, CDC said. 115 projects were given a greenlight by CDC, compared to just 81 last year. They include hotels and garment and footwear factories, as well as factories of electrical appliances, furniture, and plywood. There were also investments in the F&B and agriculture sectors.

World Bank to provide $1 billion in assistance, Ministry says Khmer Times 16th May 2019
The World Bank’s assistance money will be used in priority sectors, including roads. The World Bank will approve the disbursement of $1 billion to Cambodia to develop priority sectors in the next five years, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The announcement was made by a World Bank delegation during a recent meeting with Acting Minister of Economy and Finance Vongsey Visoth. The World Bank’s board of directors later this month will approve a $1 billion soft loan as part of a partnership framework with Cambodia, covering the years 2019 to 2023, state-news agency Agence Kampuchea Presse reported.

EU prepares to kneecap Cambodia over human rights East Asia Forum 15th May 2019
In February 2019, the European Union launched an 18-month process over whether or not to maintain Cambodia’s preferential access to the EU market under the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade scheme. The review follows what the European Union perceives as ‘the deterioration of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law in Cambodia’. Analysts, civil society members and many in the private sector have expressed concern over the European Union’s potential suspension of the trade scheme, due to how much is at stake for Cambodia. The EBA scheme allows Cambodia to export anything to the EU market, with the exception of weapons, duty-free and quota-free. In return Cambodia must fulfil its obligations to the core UN and International Labour Organization conventions. Cambodia was granted access to the scheme, offered to most Least Developed Countries, in 2001.

World Bank: Cambodia’s economy achieves robust growth in 2018 The Cambodia Daily 8th May 2019
The Cambodian economy grew 7.5 percent in 2018, according to the World Bank’s Cambodia Economic Update, released today. This better-than-expected growth was driven largely by the rapid expansion of exports and ongoing construction boom. Exports of garments, footwear and travel goods — which account for more than two-thirds of total merchandise exports—recorded a five-year high, rising by 17.6 percent in 2018, up from 8.3 percent in 2017. The construction, real estate, and tourism sectors accounted for about 60 percent of total approved investment in 2018. To support the construction boom, manufacturing of building materials, furniture metals, and plastic products also increased rapidly.

Foreign Buyers of Cambodian Goods See Risk in Looming Trade Sanctions Radio Free Asia 3rd May 2019
Foreign importers of Cambodian textiles and footwear voiced concern in a letter this week that threatened European and U.S. sanctions over human rights violations may disrupt trade preferences supporting the country’s economy. Writing in a May 2 letter addressed to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, the companies—including among others Nike, Gap Inc., and Levi Strauss—urged government action to address international criticisms of its rights record. “We are concerned that the labor and human rights situation in Cambodia is posing a risk to trade preferences for Cambodia,” the letter’s signers said, pointing to what they called a “declining respect for labor standards, including freedom of association, and other issues” in the Southeast Asian country.

Cambodia's economy grew 7.5 percent in 2018, four-year high - World... Reuters 1st May 2019
Cambodia’s economy grew 7.5 percent last year, a four-year high, compared with 7 percent in 2017, helped by rising exports to the United States, the World Bank said on Wednesday. Economic growth will slip to 7 percent this year, 6.9 next year and 6.8 percent in 2021, the bank predicted. The World Bank said growth accelerated last year due to the rapid increase of garment and footwear exports to the U.S., increasing by 17.6 percent compared with 8.3 percent in 2017. “The key drivers are actually garment and footwear exports to the U.S. and the European Union,” World Bank senior economist Sodeth Ly told a news conference, adding that the U.S. market grew faster than the EU market last year.

China throws Hun Sen an economic lifeline | Article Asia Times 1st May 2019
It is becoming a regular occurrence: Every six months or so, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen jets to Beijing and returns with a bounty of new trade deals, investment promises and assurances of the Chinese government’s backing against Western criticism. Hun Sen, who spent five days in Beijing for the second Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Forum, arrived home on April 29 with half a dozen new trade agreements that he said brings “Cambodia-China relations to their best level ever.”

China to Help Cambodia If EU Pulls Tariff Agreement, PM Says Bloomberg 30th Apr 2019
China has pledged to help Cambodia if the European Union moves forward with its threat to withdraw its lucrative tariff agreement, the Southeast Asian country’s leader said. The announcement, posted to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page at the conclusion of a five-day visit to Beijing on Monday, followed meetings with both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang. He did not specify what the agreement entails.

Despite challenges, economy on right track with reforms Khmer Times 22nd Apr 2019
Cambodia’s economy has shown a certain degree of resilience and tenacity in maintaining growth despite facing various political challenges from within and outside. Economic performance and output are the main sources of regime legitimacy. The economic challenge is chiefly caused by the imposition of safeguards on rice exports from Cambodia to the EU, which added approximately 179 Euro (about $200) per tonne of rice, followed by the threat to revoke the Everything-but-Arms (EBA) duty-free access with the possibility of imposing 12 percent export tax on Cambodian garments and footwear to the EU market.

Cambodia embraces Belt and Road Initiative Khmer Times 22nd Apr 2019
President Xi Jinping’s announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013 was widely welcomed by many Asian countries. Studies suggest that there is a significant need of infrastructure development across Asia, including Southeast Asia. According to the ADB Report in 2017, Asia needs at least $8.2 trillion in financing infrastructure investment from 2010 to 2020. Despite BRI’s significance for Asean connectivity and the development of its member states, there are concerns expressed among scholars and policymakers in the region. First, as the economic size and political power of China have expended tremendously relative to its Southeast Asian neighbours, the growing asymmetry alone worries some in the region. On top of that, maritime disputes in the South China Sea between China and some Asean member states have contributed to growing suspicion in the region that a rising China might not be as benign as Beijing has told the rest of the region.

Economy to grow at 7 percent this year: ADB Khmer Times 4th Apr 2019
Cambodia’s economy is projected to grow at 7 percent this year and will slow down slightly in 2020 following a deceleration of economic growth in the country’s top trade partners, according to a report by the Asian Development Bank released yesterday. ADB’s projection for 2019 is lower than its figure for 2018 – 7.3 percent – resulting from a slowdown forecast in the advanced economies and China – major destinations for Cambodian exports –growth will likely soften for Cambodia’s exports and the tourism sector, ADB said in its flagship annual economic publication.

Cambodia fosters cross-border trade The Cambodia Daily 4th Apr 2019
Cambodia plans to step up cross-border trade activities and has begun talks with neighbouring countries to intensify trade ties, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on April 2. Speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate a Japanese-funded 26-million-USD water supply system in Kampot, Hun Sen said that the country began talks for increased bilateral trade with Laos, Thailand and Vietnam to open new border gates. Cambodia had previously announced a series of urgent measures to strengthen the independence of the economy and support domestic exporters given the context that the European Union is considering the removal of preferential trade arrangements under the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, which unilaterally grants duty- and quota-free access to the world’s least developed countries.

Energy

Cambodia’s Dam Troubles, Power Woes Seen as Arguments For More Solar Energy Use Radio Free Asia 8th May 2019
When the lights literally went out in many parts of Cambodia in February and stayed off in some areas during the following months, people immediately pointed their fingers at Prime Minister Hun Sen. They accused the mercurial autocrat who has ruled the country for more than three decades of orchestrating the blackouts in middle- and low-income areas to boost public support for proceeding with the controversial Stung Cheay Areng Dam in Koh Kong province, despite environmental concerns that shelved the hydropower project in 2015. On Feb. 19, Cambodia granted China’s Sino Resources Ltd., a holding company for China’s Sinohydro Group permission to conduct six months of extensive drilling, geological mapping, and prospecting in the concession for the proposed 108-megawatt hydropower project.

France to support development of Cambodian electrical grid Khmer Times 6th May 2019
France will support the development of the Kingdom’s power transmission network with $30 million in financing. According to a press release from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Minister Aun Pornmoniroth and Remi Riou, general manager of the French Development Agency (AFD), will sign a financing agreement in the near future. “As planned, the Minister of Economy and Finance will sign a financing agreement for a project to modernise the power transmission system with 29.1 million euro,” the statement says. “The project aims to strengthen the power management system with a smart grid and increase the efficiency and sustainability of the power supply,” it reads. According to the Electricity Authority of Cambodia, Cambodia now has 2,141 kilometres of transmission lines and 33 sub-stations.

What Will It Take for Cambodia to Actually Strike Oil and Gas? The Diplomat 16th Apr 2019
The government is once again heralding oil and gas prospects offshore and on, but it’s done so twice before. A new set of international companies are optimistic about Cambodia’s nascent oil and gas industry, but they are investing in an extractive business that has proven costly and yielded only delays, not yet profit. The Canadian-listed gold mining company Angkor Gold announced this year that it would start exploring oil and gas blocks onshore in Cambodia, expanding out from its gold and copper endeavors which have yet to deliver any profit for the company. Angkor Gold would not disclose any details on which location they may choose to explore, but their website explains the company is negotiating with the government for 7,000 square kilometers, with particular interest in the Kampong Som basin, an area southwest of Phnom Penh where thermal conditions indicate a possibility for oil or dry gas.

Cambodia asks Vietnam to supply more electricity Khmer Times 9th Apr 2019
Mine and Energy Minister Suy Sem today requested the Vietnamese government supply more electricity to help address a current shortage in the Kingdom. A ministry press release said that Mr Sem today discussed the matter at the ministry with Le Bien Cuong, commercial counsellor at the Vietnamese embassy. “His Excellency Suy Sem asked the Vietnamese to support Cambodia’s request for an additional 50 megawatts of electricity,” read the statement. Vietnam is currently supplying 170 megawatts to help the Kingdom tide over an acute shortage because of low water levels at hydropower dams due to a dry spell. The ministry said that Mr Sem also urged Vietnam to release water from 14 upstream hydropower dams in the country to the Cambodian Lower Sesan II hydropower dam for it to have sufficient water to produce more electricity. In response, Mr Le said he will forward Cambodia’s request to the Vietnamese government. Last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen called for the public and government institutions to reduce usage, noting that the Kingdom is currently facing a shortage of electricity due to a lack of water to power electric turbines at dams.

Cambodia announces hydropower, solar projects amid widespread electricity shortages Eco-Business 8th Apr 2019
Cambodia’s government on Friday approved a hydropower dam and solar energy plant projects in a bid to ease the strain on the country’s electricity grid, which has been unable to meet supply demand, leading to nationwide outages over the past several weeks. In a statement, the Council of Ministers said SPHP (Cambodia) Co. Ltd. had been approved to invest in an 80-megawatt hydropower dam in Pursat province, while Cambodian firm SchneiTec Co. Ltd. was given permission to build three 60-megawatt solar energy plans in Pursat, Kampong Chhnang and Kampong Speu provinces. The US$231 million hydropower dam will be built as part of a 39-year concession, while the solar energy plants will each cost US $58 million and be built as part of 20-year concessions, the statement said. Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan told a press briefing that the power projects would benefit Cambodia “technically, economically and socially.” “Cambodia will have local sources of energy and reusable fuel consumption—clean and at affordable prices,” he said. “The projects will also employ thousands of people during the construction phase and as a result of ecotourism,” he added, without elaborating.

Petroleum product imports up 10 pct in 2018 Khmer Times 8th May 2019
Cambodia imported 2.5 million tonnes of petroleum products in 2018, a 10 percent year-on-year increase, according to the Ministry of Mines and Energy. Diesel and gasoline are the most imported petroleum products, according to Sok Khavan, the ministry’s secretary of state, who spoke during a conference on the oil and gas sectors held at Phnom Penh’s Sokha Hotel yesterday. Imports came from Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, Mr Khavan said, adding that currently 15 local and international oil companies import petroleum products from abroad. These companies distribute the products to consumers through 3,778 petrol stations and 29 petroleum terminals nationwide. 103 of these are liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) stations, according to Mr Khavan. “The government has opened the market, allowing the private sector and development partners to participate in the investment, exploration, production, refining, import-export, storage, transportation and distribution of petroleum and petroleum products,” pointed out Mr Khavan.

Cambodia dreams of an oil gushing bonanza Asia Times 30th Apr 2019
Amid electricity cuts, parched hydropower dams and millions of dollars of blackout-related economic losses, a bright spot could be emerging on Cambodia’s energy front. After nearly two decades of false starts, Cambodia has announced it will begin to extract oil for the first time later this year, representing a potential rich new source of energy and revenue. Extraction is expected to begin by the end of this year from the so-called “Apsara” oil field, situated in a 5,000 square kilometer area of the Gulf of Thailand known as Block A. Cambodia’s extraction plans have been hobbled for years due to a maritime territorial dispute with neighboring Thailand but Block A is safely within Cambodia’s solely claimed area. The area contains an estimated 30 million barrels of oil, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Currently, Cambodia is a net fuel-importing nation. If the government’s estimate of roughly 30 million barrels of oil holds, and if the fuel is also sold at today’s prices of around $65 per barrel, then the extraction could be worth as much as $1.9 billion. Ancillary benefits could be derived from foreign investment in the fledgling sector. The Ministry of Mines and Energy stated last year that foreign direct investment (FDI) in extractive industries, including oil exploration as well as mining, was worth $1.3 billion last year.

Why Hun Sen can’t keep the lights on Asia Times 5th Apr 2019
Cambodia has been gripped by daily blackouts in recent weeks, leaving many parts of the capital Phnom Penh without power for most of the day. As temperatures spike during the region’s hot season, heated questions are rising about why the government can’t seem to keep the lights on. Prime Minister Hun Sen has blamed the blackouts on a severe drought that has stifled the operations of hydropower dams, which supply about half of the country’s electricity needs. Last month the Ministry of Environment advised farmers not to plant their next rice crop because of the drought, causing some to resort to eating lotus roots to survive, according to local reports. But the economic impact of the blackouts will be most acutely felt in the national capital, home to the country’s most profitable industries. There is not yet any concrete official estimate on the rising costs of the daily power cuts on the economy. In mid-March, the government estimated that 400 megawatts of energy were needed to make up for the shortfall caused by depleted hydropower dams, or roughly one-sixth of all the electricity Cambodia consumed last year. So far only a quarter of this power gap has been purchased from neighboring Laos and Thailand. Vietnam, meanwhile, has declined to sell Cambodia any more power because it, too, is facing energy reductions in its southern provinces. The hardship, depending on how long it lasts, could have implications for stability. 

Financial Services

Fintech is the Single Largest Sector in Cambodia's Startup Scene Fintech Singapore 1st May 2019
With 78% of the population unbanked, only 3% population owning a credit card, and 13% using mobile payment, a new report seems to indicate that Cambodia’s fintech is poised for growth. The rise of fintech platforms and products could represent leapfrog solutions in the Cambodian market as adoption of technology can be “incredibly fast” the report claims. With more than 50 companies active in Cambodia, the fintech sector is already the largest category in the tech startup landscape. Some of fintech’s most developed segments include digital payments, software-as-a-service (SaaS) for financial institutions, and digital banking.

National Bank of Cambodia Will Deploy Blockchain Payment System This Year BeInCrypto 5th Apr 2019
The National Bank of Cambodia is looking to set a new precedent. After working and piloting distributed ledger technology since late 2017, the bank hopes to deploy full usage of blockchain technology sometime this year. Going beyond ‘just studying’ blockchain like so many other banks, the National Bank of Cambodia is trying to be the first to adopt such a technology outright. The national bank said that blockchain will be incorporated into its national payment system sometime in 2019.

Food & Agriculture

Cambodian rice exports to China surge following EU tariffs Reuters 6th May 2019
Cambodian rice exports to China have surged after the European Union imposed duties on imports of the grain from the Southeast Asian nation, the World Bank said on Monday. The EU in January imposed tariffs for three years on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar to curb an increase in imports from those two countries and to protect EU producers such as Italy. Cambodia has filed a challenge with the European Court of Justice against the duties, saying the so-called “safeguard” measure did not relate to any unfair behavior and was based on broad generalizations and a flawed use of data. After the tariffs were imposed, Cambodia’s milled rice exports to the EU in February reached only 10,080 tons, a 57.8 percent decline from the previous month, the bank said in its country economic update.

Cambodia: Minister of Agriculture stresses need to increase yields and quality of produce FreshPlaza 2nd May 2019
The Minister of Agriculture of Cambodia stated it is vital to boost local agricultural production and increase the quality. Speaking at the 20th-anniversary celebration of Heifer International Cambodia, Minister Veng Sakhon said local production of vegetables has increased in recent years but lamented that the quality is still deficient. Mr Sakhon urged vegetable to up quality standards so that more Cambodian goods can be shipped and consumed overseas. The minister said the government aims to have more Cambodia goods sold in international markets, particularly vegetables, fruits, and meat.

Can Blockchain help rice farmers fight poverty? Oxfam 26th Apr 2019
Rice farming in Cambodia is a risky business. When farmers plant their rice, it’s hard for them to predict what price they could possibly get after their harvest. The poorest farmers have no buyers lined up, nor do they have mills to process their grain or vehicles to take it to a market. All they can do is sell their rice to anyone who happens by with a truck, usually at a low price, and hope they can pay back their loans. Farmers also contend with droughts, floods, high costs for seeds and fertilizer and tools, as well as fluctuating global prices. It’s all beyond their control.

US$12 Million Invested in Mango Processing AKP 19th Apr 2019
Royal Government of Cambodia has licensed an investment of almost US$12 million to process domestic mangos, particularly for exports. The mango processing factory branded LBN Agriculture Co., Ltd. was granted the green light by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) recently and was expected to contribute essentially to Cambodia’s agriculture as well as farmers’ livelihood. Located along National Road No. 7 in Memut district of Thbong Khmum province, the plant with specific investment of US$11.9 million will create 135 jobs for the locals. As planned, the group will process mangos – a Cambodia’s most-grown fruit – into Sweet Mango Chutney, Mango Candy, Mango Squash, Mango Pickle and beyond. The move is part of the government’s commitment to further promote agriculture, especially the crops widely grown.

African Swine Fever Detected in a Northeastern Province Agence Kampuchea Presse 10th Apr 2019
The Cambodian authorities as well as farmers are joining hands to prevent the African swine fewer (ASF) after it was detected in a northeastern province of Cambodia since late March. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, local veterinarians and experts are closely monitoring the disease since it was reported in Somthom commune, O' Ya Dav district, Rattanakiri province where more than 400 pigs died. Mr. Srun Pov, President of the Cambodian Animal Raisers Association, voiced his concerns over this animal epidemic. He told local media that the association is working with the authorities, especially the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to take action against its spread. According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, ASF is a highly contagious haemorrhagic viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, which is responsible for serious economic and production losses. It is caused by a large DNA virus of the Asfarviridae family, which also infects ticks of the genus Ornithodoros.

EIB Consider Possible Projects to Support Cambodia’s Agriculture Agence Kampuchea Presse 5th Apr 2019
European Investment Bank (EIB) is considering possible projects to support physical infrastructure and farming development for Cambodia’s agriculture. The interest was underlined by EIB loan officer Ms. Olga Pascenco when received on Wednesday by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries H.E. Veng Sakhon at his office here in Phnom Penh. EIB, said Ms. Olga Pascenco, is focusing in awareness building about climate change impacts on agriculture, especially through tree planting to promote biodiversity and natural resources, and through establishment of ecotourism that will also improve local livelihoods. From his end, H.E. Veng Sakhon welcomed the willingness of EIB to support Cambodia’s agriculture, and thanked European countries and peoples for contributing to the Kingdom’s development so far. He also proposed the EIB delegation to consider supporting Cambodia with complete procession chain for cash crops such as cassava, corn, mango and cashew nut, and modern irrigation system. The EIB regional officer hoped to bring the minister’s proposal for further discussion among the management of her bank.

NA President Wants More In-depth Cambodia-Myanmar Relations Agence Kampuchea Presse 30th Apr 2019
Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly (NA) of Cambodia, received here this morning at the NA Palace H.E. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. In the meeting, Samdech Heng Samrin expressed the NA’s intention to see the Governments of Cambodia Myanmar continue fostering their cooperation in the fields of agriculture, trade, tourism, education, and culture in particular.

Cambodia asks for Asean help in EU tariff dispute Khmer Times 24th Apr 2019
Cambodia has asked fellow Asean member states to issue a joint declaration to the European Union decrying the EU’s decision earlier this year to impose import duties on Cambodian rice. The request was made by Cambodian Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak during the Asean Business Advisory Council Consultation meeting, held in Thailand on Monday. Last week the Ministry of Commerce announced that it is considering issuing a complaint on the issue to the European Court of Justice. Minister Sorasak also asked that permanent missions to the World Trade Organization of each Asean country issue statements to support Cambodia’s declaration. According to the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce, the Asean economic ministers agreed to the Kingdom’s requests. The European Union imposed tariffs in January on Cambodian and Burmese rice to curb what it said was a surge in imports from these countries that was detrimental to EU producers, particularly those in Italy and Spain. During the first year, 175 euros ($199.5) per tonne will be levied, 150 euros ($171) in the second year, and 125 euros ($142.5) in the last.

Health & Life Sciences

Maternal death rate still high The Phnom Penh Post 12th Apr 2019
The UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) released a report on Wednesday, showing that although live birth maternal mortalities in Cambodia have decreased significantly, the rate was still considered high. However, the UNFPA said that real progress had been made in the Kingdom since the UN agency’s founding in 1994. The State of World Population 2019 report shows that maternal mortalities have decreased from more than 900 among 100,000 live births in 1994 to 170 deaths today, and while the contraceptive prevalence rate had increased from 19 per cent in 2000 to 39 per cent in 2014, more needed to be done. “The modern contraceptive prevalence rate was 39 per cent in 2014, 33 per cent in the city and 40 per cent in the countryside,” the report said. The UNFPA considered the figures as low. “When a woman does not have a right to choose, her ability to capitalise on her skills and education are eroded, as are so many other key aspects of her life, including the power to decide whether and when to get married and whether and when to become pregnant,” UNFPA representative Rizvina de Alwis said.

Unauthorised medicines seized The Phnom Penh Post 10th Apr 2019
Nearly 20,000 units of unauthorised drugs, including Chinese herbal medicine and aphrodisiac substances, were confiscated during crackdowns on three different locations in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district late last month. Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, the Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee chairman Meach Sophanna, who is also the ministry’s secretary of state, said police on March 27 had raided three shops on a street near O’Russey Market. After receiving a tip-off from different sources, the authorities launched the clampdown and seized 18,160 units of drugs which are not registered with the ministry, including unlicenced sex enhancement substances for men and women, and expired medicine, he said. The evidence was displayed at the Tuesday press conference where Sophanna also said the police are preparing legal action against the owners of the shops. “We did not arrest the culprits immediately because they had fled. Right now, our forces are preparing the documents and will send this case to court,” Sophanna said.

Concerns over swine fever outbreak The Phnom Penh Post 9th Apr 2019
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries specialists have raised concerns over African swine fever spreading from Ratanakkiri to its three border provinces – Mondulkiri, Kratie and Stung Treng. Officials suspect that the disease may have spread to Som Trak, Som Kol and Ten villages in Ratanakkiri province’s O’Yadav district, following an outbreak of the fever in Som Thom commune’s Som Kaninh village on March 22. The General Directorate of Animal Health and Production director-general Tan Phannara on Monday said suspicions arose as pig farming practices in the local family-owned operations entail allowing pigs out of their cages to forage for food and slaughtering those that died of diseases for food – unaware of the African swine fever outbreak. The three villages have seen a series of pig deaths as in the first outbreak in Som Kaninh village. A total of 193 pigs have been bought from the people to prevent further contagion. “What we have seen – the disease may have spread to the three villages. We are going to the villages and warning them to excise further caution due to the fever,” he said.

Military personnel called on to prevent drug abuse The Phnom Penh Post 9th Apr 2019
A senior official from the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) on Monday called on would-be soldiers and military personnel to act as the focal persons for their communities to prevent an increase in narcotics abuse. Speaking in front of some 1,200 people – including students and soldiers – at the Tmat Porng Military School, NACD spokesperson Meas Vyrith said the responsibility to combat illegal drug abuse in society “does not belong to just one body or organisation”. “We must regard drug abuse as a common problem for all of us. Therefore, everyone must take part in efforts to combat the spread of drug use as it can affect the happiness of our society,” Vyrith said at the event, which was intended to raise awareness of laws on drugs control. In a related development, the Ministry of Interior Anti-Drug Department recently raided a clandestine laboratory used to manufacture narcotics in the capital’s Sen Sok district. More than 200kg of pyrovalerone and 587kg of other substances, as well as a set of equipment for making drugs, were discovered during the crackdown operation.

Student health targeted under new gov’t policy The Phnom Penh Post 8th Apr 2019
The Cambodian government has approved the “Draft National Policy on School Health” after hearing reports and holding discussions at a Council of Ministers meeting led by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday. “The draft national policy has as its vision the development of good physical, mental and spiritual health to develop Cambodian society in a sustainable manner." “This draft is formulated with the purpose of contributing to improving the quality of education and providing learners and educators with good health and wellbeing to [benefit] Cambodia’s human resources,” the Council of Ministers said. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Friday said it is to orient learners, educators and relevant parties to care for their health as a contribution to national development. The ministry said the implementation of the national policy aimed to change bad habits and instil a positive attitude in learners and educators to ensure quality and effectiveness.

Ministry warns of food poisoning over New Year The Phnom Penh Post 8th Apr 2019
The Ministry of Health has called on the people to take 11 preventive measures to protect themselves from food or alcohol poisoning during the Khmer New Year celebration. Those who felt unwell should immediately seek medical treatment, it said. On Friday, the ministry said hundreds of people had suffered food poisoning in provincial communities in the first three months of this year, with some losing their lives. The minister, Mam Bun Heng, reminded people to be careful about food that might not be fit for consumption. “I strongly advise people to be more careful about health problems that may occur during the Khmer New Year festival in conjunction with the current hot weather. Be especially careful regarding food preparation and improper storage, in order to avoid stomach aches, vomiting and diarrhoea." “These can be caused by eating unhealthy food or by alcohol poisoning from drinks that are not produced in a safe way,” he said.

Draft National Policy on Academic Health Approved to Improve Education Quality Agence Kampuchea Presse 5th Apr 2019
The draft national policy on academic health was approved in a plenary Cabinet Meeting organised here this morning under the presidency of Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen. According to a press release of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers, this draft national policy has the vision to develop the Cambodian human resources physically, mentally and spiritually for the sustainable social development. It was designed to contribute to improving the quality of education and to providing learners and education staff with the possibility to gain good health and well-being to become potential human resources.

Cambodia Urges Joint Efforts for Affordable, Quality, Effective and Safe Health Services Agence Kampuchea Presse 4th Apr 2019
Cambodia has urged for joint efforts among ASEAN member countries to promote affordable, quality, effective and safe health services. Cambodia Minister of Health H.E. Mam Bunheng made the call in his opening address of the 14th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development (14th ASEAN SOMHD) and Related Meetings at Siem Reap province early this week. This would mean we have to work together to address emerging challenges faced by health sector in all ASEAN countries to ensure it can cover the most marginalised group, underlined the minister. After the ousted Khmer Rouge regime, there were only 40 medical doctors across Cambodia, but through the government’s commitment and hard work, the Kingdom has now more than 20,000 health staff. Ministry of Health has also been introducing equity fund to support public health access among Cambodians from unfortunate backgrounds. As added by H.E. Mam Bunheng in his address, healthy life skills, expansion of health system to respond to communicable diseases, food security, and demolition of fake and low quality medicines are priority areas that ASEAN countries should consider to further promote.

ICT

‘Smart’ humanoid robots to serve customers at outlets in Phnom Penh , Post Focus, Phnom Penh Post Phnom Penh Post 21st May 2019
Mobile telecommunications operator, Smart Axiata Co., Ltd. took another innovative step by introducing robotic technology to optimize efficiency in its Smart Shops. In its efforts to serve customers better, the company introduced ‘Oun Smart’, a robot which serves as a shop assistant at its outlets, where it welcomes customers and assist them with basic enquiries. So far three English speaking robots have been deployed at Smart outlets in Monivong, Exchange Square and Street Nehru. The company is working on Khmer speaking robots as well. According to Smart, it is the first social humanoid robot to be used in this capacity in Cambodia, primarily to assist customers with product information through voice interaction.

Internet users up by almost half a million in Q1 Khmer Times 21st May 2019
There are almost 14 million mobile internet connections in Cambodia. More than 330,700 SIM cards were registered during the first three months of the year, while the number of mobile internet users went up by nearly 490,000, according to the latest report from the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia (TRC). The number of landline phone users decreased by 4,791, while fixed internet subscribers grew by 27,688, TRC said. According to the report, the number of mobile phone connections is now equivalent to 121.2 percent of the country’s population while mobile internet users represent 85.6 percent of all Cambodians.

Almost 87 pct of Cambodians use internet: report The Cambodia Daily 19th May 2019
About 14.1 million, or 86.7 percent, out of Cambodia’s 16.2 million people have now access to the internet, according to a report issued by the country’s Telecommunication Regulator on Saturday. The report said 13.94 million, or 85.6 percent, subscribed to mobile internet service, and 181,036, or 1.1 percent, used fixed internet service. The Southeast Asian country has seven mobile internet and 34 fixed internet service providers, it added.

Cambodia to join World Economic Forum digital growth project Khmer Times 1st May 2019
The World Economic Forum says it needs Cambodia’s participation for its Asean digital development project to succeed. The World Economic Forum has requested Cambodia’s participation in an Asean-wide programme to promote digital development and electronic payments. During a meeting Tuesday with Pan Sorasak, the Minister of Commerce, Justin Wood, WEF’s director for Asia-Pacific and executive committee member, said the Kingdom’s collaboration is needed to successfully implement the programme.

Cambodia Could Be First ASEAN Country With 5G Tech Through Huawei Business Times 26th Apr 2019
Cambodia is working to be the first ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member country to have 5G technology as Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen is set to strike a deal with Chinese tech giant Huawei. According to Xinhua, Hun Sen is scheduled to meet with a Huawei representative over the weekend to discuss the deal, Sry Thamarong, a minister in connection with the Cambodian Prime Minister, revealed on Thursday.

Cambodia launches its first technology startup report Khmer Times 23rd Apr 2019
Cambodia’s digital startup ecosystem is vibrant and dynamic, with strong opportunities as well as entrepreneurial culture, according to a report by Mekong Strategic Partners and Raintree. The report, endorsed by the Board of Capacity Building and R&D (CBRD) Fund, was officially launched under the witness of Aun Pornmoniroth, the Deputy Prime Minister, at Digital Cambodia in March. The public and tech community were given a preview of the key highlights of this report in October last year during the Cambodia Tech Summit in Phnom Penh.

Linking Digital Silk Road to Cambodian digital economy Khmer Times 10th Apr 2019
The questions of what benefits China’s Digital Silk Road architecture will bring to Cambodia and what Cambodia needs to do to take full advantages of it are central to the understanding of the management and governance of a digital economy. For the Cambodian economy, the question of whether it is too late or too early for Cambodia to embrace digital Cambodia is irrelevant. A central question is to what extent linking the Chinese Digital Silk Road would mean to Cambodia’s growth and development. But what does it take to build a robust digital nation and what does it mean to society, government and economy?

Huawei extends Asia dominance with Cambodia 5G rollout Nikkei Asian Review 26th Apr 2019
Cambodia plans to sign an agreement with China's Huawei Technologies as early as Sunday to help roll out a 5G data network next year, according to officials. We are going to run the 5G maybe around 2020," Meas Po, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, told Nikkei Asian Review. Po said that in addition to signing a memorandum of understanding with Huawei, Cambodia would also seek help from a South Korean company. Po said the ministry had also contacted Korea Telecom (now known as KT corporation) to discuss a feasibility study. KT and South Korea's two other major providers launched the world's first nationwide commercial 5G network earlier this month. KT did not respond to a request for comment. Cambodia's deal with Huawei is set to be signed in Beijing on Sunday, where Prime Minister Hun Sen is currently attending China's second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, another official said. Marc Einstein, chief analyst at Japan-based IT research and advisory firm ITR, said 5G technology would be “super important” for mobile-heavy places like Cambodia, which was a “little bit ahead of the game” relative to comparable countries such as Myanmar and Laos. Einstein said Huawei’s cost effectiveness would likely trump security concerns in the region, with Phnom Penh’s increasingly close ties with Beijing adding a “geopolitical aspect” to the cooperation.

Infrastructure

Cambodia, the Belt and Road must benefit the locals too Khmer Times 19th May 2019
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s delegation has returned from the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, bringing back 10 newly signed agreements. The trip was closely followed by Cambodians, who have an increasing interest in the course of the relationship between Cambodia and China. This bilateral relationship was first elevated after Cambodia’s late Prince Norodom Sihanouk and former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai met on the sidelines of the Bandung Conference in 1955. Although domestic political changes in Cambodia disrupted engagement for some time, the relationship has been restored and is advancing substantially. By many accounts, Cambodia is one of China’s closest allies in the region. Economically, China has undeniably become Cambodia’s largest economic influencer. China is Cambodia’s largest foreign investor, bilateral donor, trading partner, rice buyer and source of foreign tourists. Cambodia has embraced (BRI) since its inception in 2013. From infrastructure and connectivity development to cross-border trade and tourism, Cambodia has benefitted significantly from cooperation with China under the BRI framework.

Economic cooperation with China under BRI helps Cambodia diversify economy, strengthen resilience - Global Times Global Times 21st Apr 2019
Cambodia, a firm supporter of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) , has been benefiting in various areas through comprehensive economic cooperation with China to diversify its economy and strengthen resilience, Cambodian officials, experts told Xinhua. "For Cambodia, with Chinese assistance, we can build mega-infrastructure projects, and those projects are crucial to boosting economic growth and making communication easier and faster," Cambodian Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said.

BRI and development in Cambodia Khmer Times 24th Apr 2019
Proper governance of the BRI projects would help minimize risks and significantly contribute to the sustainable development of Cambodia, writes Keo Piseth. Cambodia is one of the key beneficiaries of the Belt and Road Initiative for International Cooperation (BRI). Participating in the BRI has proved to be beneficial for Cambodia in terms of increasing Chinese foreign direct investment and tourists and the continuous growth of the industrial, service, agriculture, and construction sectors. Also infrastructure development has been bolstered with the building of roads, hydropower dams, bridges, hospitals and schools that the country is urgently in need of.

The Belt and Road in Cambodia: Successes and Challenges The Diplomat 1st May 2019
The Second Belt and Road Forum was held in Beijing from April 25-27 this year. Some 5,000 participants from more than 150 countries and 90 international organizations, including 36 heads of states and government, were reported to attend the forum. With Cambodia being a staunch supporter of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it was no surprise that Prime Minister Hun Sen and his delegation were among the participants. Cambodians across the country, who have an increasing interest in the course of the relationship between Cambodia and China, kept an eye out for newly signed agreements that the delegation would bring home after the trip.

Cambodia projects to benefit from improved infrastructure EdgeProp 21st April 2019
In recent years, Cambodia’s economy has been recording consistent growth of around 7% per annum, according to data from the World Bank. This is expected to continue based on recent estimates from the National Bank of Cambodia that placed 2019 growth at approximately 7%. On the back of economic growth, the nation is seeing a trend of increased urbanisation due to higher adult literacy rate and an increase in minimum wage. The adult literacy rate in the country was at 82.5% in 2017, based on the Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey 2017 released in November 2018. Meanwhile, wages increased 7% in 2018, according to the World Bank. Against this backdrop, CBRE Cambodia anticipates a diversification of property development in the country, with branded hotels, hospitals and education leading this charge. Across all realty sectors, supply is growing.

Cambodian, Thai Leaders Mark Reopening of Rail Link VOA 22nd Apr 2019
The leaders of Cambodia and Thailand met Monday at the Thai border town of Aranyaprathet to mark the ceremonial reopening of a rail link that will restore train service between the two countries after more than four decades. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Thai counterpart, Prayuth Chan-ocha, took a brief train ride across the border from Aranyaprathet to Cambodia's Poipet to celebrate the occasion. Each also shoveled some cement to mark the completion of a nearby cross-border bridge for automotive traffic. Thai officials said regular cross-border rail service is expected to be restored soon.