Cambodia Update: August 14, 2019

Cambodia Update | August 14, 2019
Author: Jack Myint
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

W. Patrick Murphy Confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia

On August 1, W. Patrick Murphy was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the new U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia in a voice vote. The confirmation comes almost a year after U.S. President Donald Trump approved his nomination. To read Murphy's full bio, please click here. In a statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Murphy said his key priorities as the head of the U.S. mission in Phnom Penh would be increasing trade between the United States and Cambodia, strengthening relations between Cambodian-American communities and people in Cambodia, and accounting for U.S. soldiers who died in Cambodia during the Vietnam War. To read the full statement, please click here. U.S.-Cambodia political relations over the past year have noticeably deteriorated due to human rights concerns following Cambodia’s general election in July 2018, which was widely criticized as unfair due to a crackdown on the political opposition ahead of the polls. This, coupled with a series of crackdowns towards members of the media, opposition, and civil society post-election that can be deemed as a backsliding of democracy and human rights in Cambodia, have further strained the relationship. The United States has imposed sanctions against some senior Cambodian government officials under the Global Magnitsky Act, and a debate continues within the U.S. Congress over whether to impose broader economic sanctions targeting Cambodia. The global spotlight on Cambodia recently re-emerged due to growing suspicion of a Chinese military base presence in Cambodia, when the Wall Street Journal released a report last month which claimed that China has signed a secret agreement allowing its armed forces to use a Cambodian navy base near Sihanoukville. To read the full report, please click here. As such, Murphy's appointment as Ambassador comes at a critical time in the U.S.-Cambodia bilateral relationship on all fronts - security, political and economic.

U.S. House of Representatives Passes Cambodia Democracy Act 2019

On July 16, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the "Cambodia Democracy Act of 2019." Though the details of which actions will be taken towards whom are not explicitly defined, the Bill outlines a framework to impose travel bans and asset seizures for senior Cambodian government officials, military leaders, security forces and their affiliates for "undermining democracy and violating human rights." The full text of the Bill can be accessed here. Since its passage in the House, the Bill has been sent to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) for a vote. If it passes SFRC, the full Senate will entertain a vote. After it passes the full Senate vote, it will go to U.S. President Donald Trump for his signature. If the bill is approved, President Trump will be able to take action – no later than 180 days of its signing – against each senior official of the Cambodian government, military or security forces and/or entities affiliated with these officials that “the president determines has directly and substantially undermined democracy in Cambodia; or has committed or directed serious human rights violations associated with undermining democracy in Cambodia.” Looking from a foreign policy angle, this legislation could further the divide between the United States and Cambodia and potentially drive Cambodia further away from the West and towards China, which has been steadily and steadfastly increasing its presence throughout the Kingdom.

Reports of a Secret Deal for Chinese Military Presence in Cambodia Creates Cause for Concern

On July 22, the Wall Street Journal released a report outlining that China has signed a secret agreement allowing its armed forces to use a Cambodian Navy base at Ream, near Sihanoukville on the Gulf of Thailand. The details of said deal were unclear, but an early draft, seen by U.S. officials, would allegedly allow China to use the base for 30 years, with automatic renewals every 10 years after, to post military personnel, store weapons and berth warships. If this were true, it would give China its first dedicated naval staging facility in Southeast Asia and increase its strategic advantage to enforce territorial claims in the South China Sea. Additionally, a large new airport is being built at Dara Sakor, about 40 miles northwest of the Ream Naval base, by a private Chinese company with a 99-year lease on a sparsely populated stretch of coastal Cambodia. The site features a 2-mile-long runway, complete with turns needed for quick takeoffs and landings by military aircraft. Warplanes flying from Dara Sakor would easily be able to strike targets in Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore. 

Both the Cambodian and Chinese governments have denied plans for a Chinese military base in Cambodia and say that the construction of the airport at Dara Sakor was purely for commercial and economic reasons. Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen vehemently rejected the WSJ report as "the worst distorted news" and that having a foreign military base in Cambodia would be against the Cambodian constitution and a violation of its national sovereignty. At the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Thailand on August 1, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo applauded Cambodia's denial of reports to host Chinese military facilities within its borders and called upon other countries to take Cambodia's lead in defending themselves against China's militarization. To read Secretary Pompeo's full remarks, please click here

 
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

Regional Affairs
US welcomes Cambodia’s denial of Chinese military presence
Vermont diplomat confirmed as ambassador to ‘backsliding’ Cambodia
Hun Sen: Sanctions Would "Impact US-Cambodia Ties"
Cambodia: holding our noses for the greater good

National Affairs
EU never envisaged putting trade sanctions on Cambodia
Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea dies at 93
Chinese money transformed a sleepy beach town in Cambodia. Then came disaster
Cambodia Says US Officials Can 'Pack Up and Leave'
US House Passes Bill to Sanction Cambodia’s Top Officials

Customs
Cambodia probes Chinese firm over illegal waste imports
Cambodia closer to adopting e-commerce law
Cambodia launches National Single Window

Defense & Security
Cambodian leader denies allowing China naval base
The U.S. Fears This Huge Southeast Asian Resort May Become a Chinese Naval Base
Cambodia to Receive More Chinese Weapons in August
Cambodia buying 'tens of thousands' of Chinese weapons: Hun Sen
China Signs Secret Deal for Naval Outpost in Cambodia, WSJ Says

Economics
Exports to US soar in H1
The key to integrating Cambodia into global value chains
Cambodia welcomes $5b in investments in H1
Banking, microfinance sectors maintain strong growth
GDP to grow at 7.1 pct in 2019
The US-China Trade War Impact on Cambodia
Cambodia’s Export Sector Is Booming, Thanks To Travel Products
Deep reforms needed to continue ‘healthy’ growth: Ministry
Trade war winners and losers diverge in SE Asia | Article
Chinese investment strains Cambodian society
Cambodia’s new trade strategy

Energy
Cambodia electricity authority “in a race” to prevent 2020 cuts
Solar to make up 15 pct of local energy production by 2020
Kampong Speu’s solar farm completed
Kingdom to get 25% local oil
Breaking: New law states 25% of Cambodian petrol for local supply
Gov’t raises electricity power supply to 2,864MW in first half
Cambodia approves four PV projects totaling 140 MW
Senators approve 2019-2023 development plan, power projects
Solar energy to be prioritised to ease power cuts
 

Financial Services
Life insurance industry gross premiums set to rise to $260M
Gov’t mulls postal banking system
Cambodian gov't approves draft bills on e-commerce, consumer protection

Food & Agriculture
Cambodia's EU rice exports fall sharply after tariffs; China sales up
Ministry releases crops report
Tiny Loans Lead to Bigger Debts, Land Losses in Cambodia
Drones ease the backbreaking work of the farmers in Cambodia
Hun Sen orders block on all illegal importation of pork
Droughts in Cambodia spell doom for farmers and fishermen
Contract farming deals inked to boost rice exports
Phase three of social and economic land allocation to aid 18,000 poor families

Health & Life Sciences
Social fund to cover pensions | Phnom Penh Post
Pfizer to merge off-patent drug biz with Mylan
Kingdom set to mark World Breastfeeding Week 2019
Ministry: Dengue fever cases kill 24, see fivefold increase
Resistant malaria spreading in South East Asia
Cambodia’s medical system is due for a check-up
Tobacco-related illnesses kill 15,000 in Cambodia per year: UN-led study

ICT
Cambodia’s Adoption of Huawei’s 5G Brings Risk to Freedom of Speech, Critics Warn
Cambodia's Smart Axiata tests 5G network with China's Huawei
Smart Axiata, Huawei work on 5G network for Kingdom
Grab takes on Cambodia's PassApp for ride-hailing supremacy

Infrastructure
Cambodia needs a smart plan
Spotlight: ASEAN, including Cambodia, hugely benefit from BRI: Cambodian experts
CDC: Improve infrastructure to draw investment to border
PM: Gov’t spends $300M per month on infrastructure
Cambodia construction approvals hit $3.1bn in Q2 as China piles in
Shanxi helps construct Cambodia's largest airport

Travel & Tourism
Golf tourney promotes sports tourism
Sixfold increase in investment from Jan to May
Kingdom’s first tour guide booking app is launched
Cambodia vows to end ‘zero-dollar’ tour packages
Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam intensify tourism connectivity
Tourism Minister calls for more direct flights in Asean
Post Media, Siem Reap Tourism Club sign MoU on industry collaboration
Cambodia, Malaysia to Reach Tourism Cooperation Deal

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

US welcomes Cambodia’s denial of Chinese military presence Khmer Times 5th Aug 2019
United States Secretary of State Michael Pompeo last week welcomed Cambodia’s denial of reports that the Kingdom agreed to host Chinese military facilities at Ream Naval Base in Preah Sihanouk province. Speaking at the Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand on August 1, Mr Pompeo said he acknowledged Cambodia’s strong protection of its national sovereignty and called on other countries to protect their sovereignty against China’s militarisation. “Cambodia refuted reports that it is allowing a Chinese military installation to be built on its territory,” he said. “The United States welcomes Cambodia’s strong defence of its national sovereignty, and we encourage other nations in the region to follow Cambodia’s lead in protecting it.”

Vermont diplomat confirmed as ambassador to ‘backsliding’ Cambodia VTDigger 2nd Aug 2019
W. Patrick Murphy, a Vermont-raised diplomat with an expertise in Southeast Asia, has been confirmed as the next U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, a country that has retreated from its decades-long experiment with democracy as it sidles up to regional superpower China. Murphy’s confirmation process began almost a year ago — delayed in part because of the federal government shutdown that began in December — and finally concluded with Senate approval on a voice vote Thursday.

Hun Sen: Sanctions Would "Impact US-Cambodia Ties" VOA 30th Jul 2019
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said the pending Cambodia Democracy Act would impact his country’s relationship with the United States, should it pass. Speaking during a visit at the construction site of his title-bearing Morodok Techo National Stadium in the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said that if the U.S. sanctions as stated in the bill are enforced against “Defense Minister Tea Banh, it is the equivalent of cutting defense ties [with Cambodia]. Sanctions against Sar Kheng equals cutting police cooperation [with Cambodia]. Sanctions against Prak Sokhonn equals cutting diplomatic (bilateral) ties [with Cambodia].”

Cambodia: holding our noses for the greater good The Hill 28th Jul 2019
The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on an agreement between Cambodia and China to let Beijing use the Ream naval base in Sihanoukville, Southeastern Cambodia. Despite vehement denials by Beijing and Phnom Penh that remind us of Shakespeare’s line that “the lady doth protest too much,” let’s stipulate for the sake of argument that the conclusions in the article have merit. What is the United States prepared to do? The answer, not surprisingly, is not much. Senate bill, S-1468, the “Cambodia Accountability and Return on Investment Act,” is the latest in a long list of unsuccessful U.S. attempts to force democracy onto a regime that sees it as an existential threat, a familiar pattern of trying to shame Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen into complying with policies that go against his own political interests. We seem determined to appear feckless to the Cambodian peo

National Affairs

EU never envisaged putting trade sanctions on Cambodia Eleven Media Group 5th Aug 2019
The bloc’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said the EU “had never envisaged to put trade sanction on Cambodia and other countries in Asia alike”. The EU “had never envisaged to put trade sanction on Cambodia and other countries in Asia alike”, the bloc’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said last week.

Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea dies at 93 CNN 4th Aug 2019
Known as "Brother Number Two," Nuon Chea was the right-hand man and brother-in-law of notorious Khmer Rouge dictator Pol Pot and a key ideologist throughout the regime's reign of terror Nuon Chea died in hospital, according to the Extraordinary Chambers in The Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The United Nations-backed tribunal court was formed in 2006 to prosecute Khmer Rouge figures for alleged violations of international law during the Cambodian genocide.

Chinese money transformed a sleepy beach town in Cambodia. Then came disaster Los Angeles Times 4th Aug 2019
For many Cambodians, the June 22 catastrophe and its aftermath were confirmation that their government cared more about courting Chinese investment than it did about them. As Beijing expands its economic influence overseas, it has found few partners more willing than Cambodia’s authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ushered in Chinese state-owned companies to build roads, bridges, hydroelectric plants, industrial parks and a port. Cambodia’s strategic location, at the doorstep of the South China Sea makes it a geopolitical prize, and Beijing’s support — backed by billions of dollars in loans — has helped Hun Sen weather U.S. criticism of crackdowns against opposition parties, civil society groups and independent media that have made Cambodia effectively a one-party state.

Cambodia Says US Officials Can 'Pack Up and Leave' VOA 1st Aug 2019
U.S. embassy officials in Cambodia should “pack up and leave” if they do not like the country, a Cambodian government spokesman said on Thursday. The statement came after U.S. diplomats in Phnom Penh criticized Cambodia’s July 2018 election. They said on social media that the election had “failed to represent the will of the Cambodian people.” The embassy officials made the comment to mark one year since the vote.

US House Passes Bill to Sanction Cambodia’s Top Officials Voice of America 18th Jul 2019
U.S. lawmakers have sent a clear signal to Cambodian leaders that they have to reverse course on limiting democracy or face consequences. “The passage of the Cambodia Democracy Act is an important step toward holding Prime Minister Hun Sen and his cronies accountable for continuing to trample on the rights of the Cambodian people,” said Congressman Steve Chabot, a Republican from Ohio. Republican Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida introduced the bill in January after Cambodian authorities silenced critics by cracking down on civil society groups, independent media and opposition politicians ahead of the general elections in July 2018.

Customs

Cambodia probes Chinese firm over illegal waste imports Reuters 19th Jul 2019
Cambodia is investigating a locally based Chinese firm for illegally importing around 1,600 tonnes of plastic waste from the United States and Canada, the Southeast Asian country’s customs chief told Reuters on Friday. Southeast Asian nations have emerged as some of the top destinations for plastic waste exporters in the West after China introduced a partial ban on waste imports in 2018 which disrupted the flow of more than 7 million tonnes of plastic scrap a year.

Cambodia closer to adopting e-commerce law Asia Customs & Trade 13th Jul 2019
The Cambodian government has approved the long-awaited draft laws on e-commerce and consumer protection, says the government’s spokesperson. The approval was made during a weekly cabinet meeting on July 12, which was presided over by Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, said Phay Siphan on his Facebook page. E-commerce refers to the purchase of goods and services via an online system. Siphan said the draft e-commerce law aims to facilitate and regulate online business operations for investors and consumers.

Cambodia launches National Single Window Asia Customs & Trade 6th Jul 2019
Cambodia has launched its National Single Window (NSW) aimed at facilitating import and export activities. Inaugurated by the Ministry of Economy and Finance late June, the NSW joined July 1, 2019 the live implementation of the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) to exchange Form D’s electronically, according to local reports. The NSW is an internet-based facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport to lodge standardized information and documents with a single entry point to fulfill all import, export, and transit-related regulatory requirements. Authorized agencies are allowed to register for information submitted electronically, and individual data elements will only be submitted once, according to a statement released by the ministry.

Defense & Security

Cambodian leader denies allowing China naval base Navy Times 23rd Jul 2019
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday strongly denied that he was allowing China to set up a military outpost in the Southeast Asian nation, after a news report alleged that the two nations signed a secret pact allowing Beijing exclusive use of a naval base on the Gulf of Thailand. Hun Sen told the pro-government Fresh News website that the report by The Wall Street Journal was "the worst distorted news," and that Cambodia had never discussed with China setting up a base. “No such thing happens. Foreign military base is against Cambodia’s constitution,” Fresh News quoted Hun Sen as saying. The Journal’s report said an early draft of the reputed agreement seen by U.S. officials would allow China use of the Ream naval base for 30 years, where it would be able to post military personnel, store weapons and berth warships.

The U.S. Fears This Huge Southeast Asian Resort May Become a Chinese Naval Base Bloomberg 18th Jul 2019
Along pristine Cambodian beaches, past parades of elephants in its largest national park, sits an area half the size of Singapore that is ringing alarm bells among military strategists in the U.S. and beyond. Dara Sakor, a $3.8 billion China-backed investment zone encompassing 20% of Cambodia’s coastline, is unlike any other in the developing Southeast Asian nation. Controlled by a Chinese company with a 99-year lease, it features phased plans for an international airport, a deep-water seaport and industrial park along with a luxury resort complete with power stations, water treatment plants and medical facilities.

Cambodia to Receive More Chinese Weapons in August VOA 31st Jul 2019
“[They] are on the way,” said the minister by phone. “But there is still no information about when [they] will arrive exactly,” he added. On Monday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen declared that Cambodia has increased its arms purchases from China. He said his government had pledged $40 million to buy “tens of thousands of additional weapons” from Beijing and that they were being shipped. The additional arms are to modernize Cambodia military, he said. The latest arms deal is an addition to a previous total of $200 million in arms deals with China.

Cambodia buying 'tens of thousands' of Chinese weapons: Hun Sen CNA 29th Jul 2019
Cambodia has purchased weapons from China to modernise its military, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday (Jul 29), providing rare details of arms deals with Beijing just days after denying a secret agreement to allow Chinese warships to use a local naval base. "I ordered the purchase of tens of thousands of additional weapons," he said, without explaining what the country had bought. "Now they are being shipped." "I want to strengthen the army," the prime minister said in a speech broadcast live on Facebook.

China Signs Secret Deal for Naval Outpost in Cambodia, WSJ Says Bloomberg 22nd Jul 2019
China has signed a secret deal with Cambodia giving its military exclusive rights to use part of a navy base in the Gulf of Thailand, the Wall Street Journal reported citing unnamed U.S. officials. While details of the pact were not seen, U.S. sources said the two sides recently entered into an agreement that would hand China its first naval outpost in Southeast Asia. The U.S. maintains that a base in Cambodia could change the balance of power in Southeast Asia and poses a threat regional sovereignty.

Economics

Exports to US soar in H1 Khmer Times 5th Aug 2019
Cambodian exports to the United States rose sharply in the first half of the year, surpassing $2 billion by the end of June, the latest data from the US government show. Cambodia’s shipments to the world’s largest market grew by 30 percent from January to June, the data show. $2.24 billion worth of Cambodian goods were purchased by the US. Total trade between the two countries also expanded by 30 percent, reaching $2.5 billion. Cambodian imports of US products were valued at $264 million.

The key to integrating Cambodia into global value chains The Cambodia Daily 4th Aug 2019
Since its return to a market-oriented economy in 1989, Cambodia has pursued policies and reforms to integrate itself into regional and global value chains by modernising its industrial structure. The IDP lays out ‘key concrete measures’ ranging from reductions in electricity costs, enhancement of connectivity in transport and logistics, and improvement to the labour market and skills. Past attempts to address these challenges have seen some success, leading to a significant economic transition over the last two decades and the diversification of Cambodia’s export outputs and destinations. The country exported 1215 product categories to 149 international markets in 2016 compared to the 680 product categories it exported to 94 international markets in 2001.

Cambodia welcomes $5b in investments in H1 Khmer Times 2nd Aug 2019
The government approved $5.2 billion worth of investment in the first half of 2019, a 48.5 percent hike compared to the corresponding period last year, with officials claiming the figure reflects investors’ growing confidence in the country. The latest data regarding investment in Cambodia was presented yesterday during a press conference to mark the achievements of the government one year after the general elections. According to the data, compiled by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), total investment in H1 was spread among 153 projects. Agriculture, agro-industry, and garments accounted for 134 of those projects, worth a combined $920.6 million.

Banking, microfinance sectors maintain strong growth Khmer Times 1st Aug 2019
Loan and deposit growth in the Kingdom’s crowded financial sector remained high during the first half of the year, a result of sound macroeconomic management and political stability, the Central Bank said in its latest report. The National Bank of Cambodia’s report, released last week, said that loans in the banking and microfinance sectors rose by about 22,4 percent in H1, growing by $27.7 billion. The value of all outstanding loans has now reached $21.5 billion in the banking sector and $6.2 billion in the microfinance industry. Cambodia’s banking and microfinance sectors continue to play a crucial and active role pushing economic growth and reducing poverty and inequity, Chea Chanto, the Central Bank’s governor, said last weekend during NBC’s biannual meeting.

GDP to grow at 7.1 pct in 2019 Khmer Times 30th Jul 2019
The Cambodian Central Bank said economic growth remains robust so far this year and forecast that gross domestic product will expand by 7.1 percent in 2019. In its latest biannual report, the National Bank of Cambodia said economic growth this year will be supported by the strong performance of exports as well as the construction, real estate, and tourism sectors. By contrast, agriculture will experience a slowdown. In the first half of the year, industry grew by 10.5 percent, while services expanded by 6.6 percent. Agriculture, however, grew by just 1.4 percent, NBC said, noting that the sector’s contribution to GDP decreased to just 17 percent.

The US-China Trade War Impact on Cambodia Khmer Times 28th Jul 2019
US President Donald Trump instigated the trade war with China in 2018, following complaints of unfair trade policies and practices from its partner. Unlike military warfare, trade war focuses on one nation’s damage towards another’s trade, typically by the imposition of trade protection in the form of tariffs or quota restrictions. Until now, the two super-powers have retaliated by imposing tariffs on products, worth billions USD. This article argues that Cambodia may benefit from the trade war in the short run, but suffer in the long run.

Cambodia’s Export Sector Is Booming, Thanks To Travel Products Business Times 24th Jul 2019
It turns out many people trust Cambodia's reputation for manufacturing various travel goods as the latest data revealed that exports within the January to May period surged by over 15 percent. A large portion of the hike is attributed to travel goods orders. According to the Khmer Times, the Ministry of Economy and Finance revealed that Cambodian exports reached $5.3 billion. Imports also hiked by 21.5 to reach $8.2 billion. The U.S. is known for importing woven apparel and footwear from the Asian country. The ministry's report noted that the boom in Cambodian exports was propelled by solid travel goods demand from the United States. While U.S. demand helped bolster exports in the sector, diversification also helped in the change that Cambodian companies are experiencing.

Deep reforms needed to continue ‘healthy’ growth: Ministry Khmer Times 24th Jul 2019
The government projects a slowdown in economic growth next year, going from a growth rate of 7.1 percent in 2019 to 6.5 percent in 2020. The slowdown will be the result of external pressures, led by the possible revocation of the Everything-but-arms (EBA) deal with the European Union and the US-China trade war, a Cambodian high-ranking official said, adding that the situation can be ameliorated if proper reforms are enacted. The new economic projection was presented last week during a parliamentary workshop at the National Assembly to prepare the drafting of the National Budget Law for 2020.

Trade war winners and losers diverge in SE Asia | Article Asia Times 24th Jul 2019
On July 15, US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to react to the news that China’s latest quarterly economic growth, though still coming in at a hearty 6.2%, had dropped to a 27-year low. US tariffs “are having a major effect on companies wanting to leave China for non-tariffed countries. Thousands of companies are leaving,” Trump claimed in the tweet, foreshadowing the protectionist rhetoric American voters are likely to hear as he gears up for a re-election run in 2020. Cambodia appears to be the latest beneficiary of the US-China trade war, joining the already exhaustively profiled Vietnam among the countries enjoying increased exports to the US as tariffed Chinese goods open the door for other cheap suppliers.

Chinese investment strains Cambodian society Nikkei Asian Review 22nd Jul 2019
The past decade has witnessed an unprecedented and massive influx of Chinese investments and tourism into Cambodia. The capital inflow and rising visitor numbers have been both beneficial and disruptive for Cambodia's economic development and social cohesion. Chinese investments have impacted Cambodia's domestic politics and foreign policy in ways that have facilitated the country's drift toward autocratic rule. They also appear to be leading to far-reaching environmental and sociocultural changes. The experience offers valuable lessons for other countries in Southeast Asia, and highlights an urgent dilemma for the government and society alike.

Cambodia’s new trade strategy Khmer Times 15th Jul 2019
Trade sector reform has gained new momentum after a bold reform agenda announced by Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Government-Private Sector Forum in March this year- including the withdrawal of the inspection of the Cambodia Import-Export and Fraud Repression Directorate General (Camcontrol) at the international gateways and the abolishment of the state-owned Kampuchea Shipping Agency and Brokers (Kamsab).

Energy

Cambodia electricity authority “in a race” to prevent 2020 cuts AEC News Today 9th Aug 2019
The head of Electricite Du Cambodge (EdC) said yesterday (Aug 8) that the utility is in “a race against time and a race against nature” to get two new generators installed and commissioned ahead of the next dry season if power cuts similar to earlier this year are to be avoided. EdC director-general Keo Rottanak said that contracts for the two 200 megawatts (MW) power plants ordered last month have a completion period of between 10 and 12 months, “but with construction commencing in the wet season it slows things down”, adding that June or July are more realistic.

Solar to make up 15 pct of local energy production by 2020 Khmer Times 8th Aug 2019
About 15 percent of all energy produced in the Kingdom will come from solar panels by 2020, the government said yesterday. Speaking during a press conference at the Council of Ministers, Keo Ratanak, director-general of Electricite du Cambodge (EDC), said Cambodia will be producing at least 390 megawatts from solar farms by next year. A host of solar energy projects has been approved since earlier this year the country was hit by power shortages. Some of these recently approved projects will come online during 2019 and 2020.

Kingdom to get 25% local oil Phnom Penh Post 22nd Jul 2019
Companies processing petroleum from Cambodia’s oilfields are required to provide a maximum of 25 per cent to meet local needs, according to a law that has been signed off by King Norodom Sihamoni on July 12. It was passed by the Senate in late June. However, petroleum exports can be banned in the event of an emergency shortage in local supply, states the Law on the Management and Production of Petroleum, a copy of which was obtained by The Post on Sunday.

Breaking: New law states 25% of Cambodian petrol for local supply Phnom Penh Post 21st Jul 2019
A law requiring companies processing petroleum from Cambodia's oilfields to provide a maximum of 25 per cent to meet local needs has been signed off by King Norodom Sihamoni. However, petroleum exports can be banned in the event of a shortage to local supply, states the Law on the Management and Production of Petroleum, a copy of which was obtained by The Post on Sunday. The Post reported in May that KrisEnergy Ltd, the Singapore-based firm that operates Cambodia’s Block A offshore oilfield, claimed that the first drop of oil will be extracted late this year, with commercial production scheduled to begin next year. The law was approved by King Sihamoni on July 12 after being passed by the Senate in late June. It has nine chapters and 72 articles and is "effective immediately".

Gov’t raises electricity power supply to 2,864MW in first half Phnom Penh Post 18th Jul 2019
In efforts to curb electricity shortages during the dry season, the government increased electricity power supply by 315MW to 2,864MW in the first half of this year, data from the Ministry of Mines and Energy said. During a meeting on Tuesday to review results achieved by the ministry in the first half of this year and set targets for the second half, Minister of Mines and Energy Suy Sem said electricity supply during the dry season had been insufficient, despite government efforts. Sem said the government approved eight investment projects in power generation in the first half.

Cambodia approves four PV projects totaling 140 MW pv magazine International 15th Jul 2019
Cambodia’s council of ministers announced Friday that it has approved four new large-scale solar power projects with 140 MW of total capacity. The projects, which were submitted by local group Schneitec Infinite, Chinese panel maker Risen Energy, Ray Power Supply, and Green Sustainable Ventures, will be constructed on a Build-Own-Operate (BOO) basis. A 20 MW solar park will be located in the Bavet province, while another 60 MW project will be built in the Battambang province, and two additional 30 MW facilities will being installed in the provinces of Pursat and Banteay Meanchey.

Senators approve 2019-2023 development plan, power projects Khmer Times 11th Jul 2019
Senators yesterday unanimously agreed to pass the National Strategic Development Plan of 2019-2023 worth $57.7 billion in capital. In order for the budget plan to be finalised, it will need to be reviewed by the Constitutional Council and approved by the King. The vote was held during yesterday’s plenary session when senators also unanimously approved plans by SPHP (Cambodia) to invest in a new hydroelectric dam in Pursat province, as well as plans by Schnei Tech to build solar farms in the provinces of Pursat and Kampong Chhnang.

Solar energy to be prioritised to ease power cuts Khmer Times 7th Jul 2019
Electricite du Cambodge (EDC), the national electric utility, is aiming for a considerable increase in the amount of renewable energy produced in the country within the next few years, a senior official said Friday. Cambodia mostly generates energy from coal-fired power plants and hydropower dams. Solar energy made up less than one percent of total energy output last year. The goal is to diversify energy production, now largely dominated by hydroelectricity, which accounted for about 48 percent of all power consumed last year. Through this diversification strategy, the government hopes to put an end to the power shortages that have affected the country, Mr Rattanak said.

Financial Services

Life insurance industry gross premiums set to rise to $260M Khmer Times 28th Jul 2019
The insurance industry is expected to see its gross premiums increase to about $260 million at the end of this year from $196.4 million last year due to rapid growth in the sector, the Ministry of Economy and Finance said. In a statement released in conjunction with “Insurance Day” yesterday, the Ministry said the sector’s annual growth was about 35 per cent in the last five years and expects it will keep increasing by at least 32 per cent in gross premiums this year. Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth said during the 19th Insurance Day celebrations on Thursday that Cambodia’s insurance industry is progressing strongly and had become the main contributor to the non-banking sector.

Gov’t mulls postal banking system Khmer Times 15th Jul 2019
The Minister of Posts and Telecommunications last week proposed the creation of a network of postal banks to enhance access to banking and financial services across the country. Speaking on Friday during a meeting of the Council of Ministers, Minister Tram Iv Tek said a postal banking system would particularly benefit people living in rural areas. “A postal bank will help people in the countryside, who will no longer have to come to the capital or provincial towns [for banking services],” he said, noting that the idea of creating the bank came to him during a trip to China, a country that uses postal banks.

Cambodian gov't approves draft bills on e-commerce, consumer protection Xinhua 12th Jul 2019
The Cambodian government approved on Friday the long-awaited draft laws on e-commerce and consumer protection, government spokesman Phay Siphan said. The approval was made during a weekly cabinet meeting, which was presided over by Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, the spokesman said on his Facebook page. Siphan said the draft e-commerce law was aimed at facilitating and regulating online business operations for investors and consumers.

Food & Agriculture

Cambodia's EU rice exports fall sharply after tariffs; China sales up Reuters 8th Jul 2019
Cambodia’s rice exports to the European Union fell sharply in the first half of the year following the imposition of tariffs, official data showed on Monday, but the loss was offset by increased sales to China. The EU in January imposed tariffs for three years on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar, aiming to protect EU producers such as Italy following a surge in imports from the two Asian countries. For the first six months, rice exports to the EU fell 32 percent from the same period last year to 93,503 tonnes, according to data from the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export Formality, a joint private-government working group.

Ministry releases crops report Phnom Penh Post 7th Aug 2019
A ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report said the Kingdom cultivated over 2.3 million hectares of rice during this year’s rainy season, but Minister Veng Sakhon expressed concern over the abnormal weather. The ministry’s report on crop cultivation and agricultural exports was posted on Sakhon’s Facebook page on Monday. It said rice was grown on 2,326,910ha of land, of which 2,137,758ha had been successfully harvested.

Tiny Loans Lead to Bigger Debts, Land Losses in Cambodia VOA 6th Aug 2019
The rapid rise of tiny loans aimed at helping poor Cambodians has led to more debt, with many borrowers forced to sell land, migrate or put their children to work, human rights groups said on Wednesday. The Southeast Asian nation has about 2.4 million borrowers with $5.4 billion in outstanding microloans, and among the world’s biggest average loan sizes, according to a report from human rights groups Licadho and Sahmakum Teang Tnaut (STT). High interest rates, the use of land titles as collateral, and pressure to repay loans have led to a “predatory form of lending” by microfinance institutions (MFIs), they said.

Drones ease the backbreaking work of the farmers in Cambodia The Cambodia Daily 1st Aug 2019
Having witnessed first-hand the dangers faced by humans when spraying pesticide, IT graduate Heng Sopheak decided to quit his job to research and create pesticide spraying drones that are already being put to work in several of Cambodia’s provinces. Called the Sprayer Drone, or Sprayer Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), Sopheak’s agricultural drone offers a major innovation for farmers in Cambodia, where agriculture remains the major industry for inhabitants of rural areas. Hailing from the rice growing and cashew nut producing province of Kampong Thom, Sopheak completed his bachelor’s degree in Information Technology at Norton University in 2003.

Hun Sen orders block on all illegal importation of pork Phnom Penh Post 1st Aug 2019
Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a directive on Wednesday, outlining tougher measures in the fight against the spread of African swine fever (ASF). Ministries, relevant institutions, National and Military Police, the Phnom Penh Municipality and provincial halls nationwide are to work with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to halt the illegal import of pigs and pork products, he said. The prime minister’s directive comes after ASF outbreaks have been found in Ratanakkiri, Tbong Khmum, Svay Rieng, Takeo and Kandal provinces after spreading rapidly from Vietnam following an initial outbreak in China. “Humans cannot catch ASF, but the virus can have a 100 per cent mortality rate among pigs and cause the pork industry serious losses.

Droughts in Cambodia spell doom for farmers and fishermen Eco-Business 22nd Jul 2019
An extended drought in Cambodia has caused the tributaries of Tonle Sap lake to dry up, spelling ruin for farmers and fishermen in Battambang province. The large, seasonally flooded freshwater lake discharges into a river of the same name, which flows southward into the Mekong river, but this year, because of El Niño, temperatures in the region are higher than normal, which has resulted in water shortages and a decline in fishable areas. Villagers in Battambang’s Aek Phnom district say they have been unable to fish since April because the drought. They are now running out of food and have pleaded with the government to give them emergency relief. “I am facing starvation and [I am being supported by] my children. They shipped me some rice and I distributed some [of that] to other fishermen,” said a villager in an interview with RFA’s Khmer Service on Wednesday. The villager requested anonymity because she was fearful of retribution from authorities who asked people in her community specifically not to talk to RFA. She said some of the villagers can’t even make one dollar per day, and that families with many children or elderly people are especially struggling.

Contract farming deals inked to boost rice exports Khmer Times 18th Jul 2019
Twelve agricultural communities in Preah Vihear province on Wednesday entered into contract farming schemes with major rice exporter Signatures of Asia. The agricultural communities will sell a combined 2,000 tonnes of organic rice to Signatures of Asia at set prices, guaranteeing a certain level of income to the farmers. Contract farming is hailed by public officials as an effective tool to lift farmer’s livelihoods and develop the agricultural sector. Chan Pich, general manager of Signature of Asia, said selling organic rice is a sustainable business and establishing contract farming schemes benefits farmers. “Demand for organic rice continues to increase, fetching 25 to 30 percent more than regular rice,” Mr Pich said. “What’s important is that organic rice is grown following the standards required by the importing countries,” he said. “The market for organic rice is much more stable than that of regular rice, whose price fluctuates a lot.”

National committee set to destroy timber vehicles Phnom Penh Post 10th Jul 2019
In order to preserve the Kingdom’s forests, the National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention has warned it will take strict action against offenders by burning any vehicles used to transport timber at the crime scene itself. But environmental activists said this course of action would have a negative impact on the livelihoods of poor people in rural areas, especial those whose livelihoods depended on making charcoal. The National Committee for Forest Crime Prevention issued a press release on Monday entitled Taking action against individuals or companies involved in forestry crimes. It said the committee had observed that even after increasing public awareness and constant crackdowns, illegal deforestation and trafficking of timber and forestry products continued.

Phase three of social and economic land allocation to aid 18,000 poor families Phnom Penh Post 1st Jul 2019
The government is due to launch the Land Allocation for Social and Economic Development Project III (Lased III) from 2020-2025 to the tune of $60 to $90 million. The land allocation is aimed at alleviating poverty in five northeastern provinces, easing the hardships of the homeless, and providing 18,000 families with agricultural land, said Dok Doma, the director of Lased II. Speaking to The Post on Sunday, he said: “The nationwide poverty rate remains at 10 per cent, so we aim to reduce it further. The project is aimed at poor people who have no land. If they don’t have land, we will allocate them housing and agricultural land so they can farm and build houses.”

BirdLife, Ratanakkiri provincial authorities meet VN firm over wildlife conservation Phnom Penh Post 1st Jul 2019
Ratanakkiri provincial authorities and BirdLife International Cambodia Programme have urged Hoang Anh Lumphat Co Ltd to preserve the habitat of endangered fauna species in a protected area and discontinue forest clearing. Hoang Anh Lumphat operates on an economic land concession (ELC) within Ratanakkiri province’s Lumphat Wildlife Sanctuary. The call was made during a meeting on Friday at the provincial hall. It was led by provincial deputy governor Yim Panh and attended by representatives from the relevant provincial departments, the company and BirdLife which is an NGO. BirdLife manager Bou Vorsak said the meeting was aimed at boosting the company’s participation in conservation efforts aimed at endangered animal habitats present in the wildlife sanctuary.

Health & Life Sciences

Social fund to cover pensions | Phnom Penh Post The Phnom Penh Post 5th Aug 2019
At a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday, the Council of Ministers approved a draft law on expanding the scope of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) to cover pensions. The law is of immense importance, particularly in providing greater protections for women, Hun Sen said on Facebook on Saturday. “The government will continue to provide workers with greater protection and further benefits to ensure they have better lives,” the prime minister said. The draft law aims to expand the social security fund according to the principles of solidarity and equality and comprises four parts – pensions, healthcare, health and safety at work, and unemployment benefit. The composition of the law is designed to improve the livelihoods of workers, allowing them to live with greater dignity. This includes workers in the public sector and those who come under the labor law, including housemaids, flight attendants, ship crews and the self-employed.

Pfizer to merge off-patent drug biz with Mylan Phnom Penh Post 1st Aug 2019
The combination will allow Pfizer to boost depressed sales through the loss of patent protection of certain drugs. AFP Pfizer to merge off-patent drug biz with Mylan US Multinational pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer Inc announced on Monday it will merge its off-patent drug business with generic drugmaker Mylan to create a global leader in low-cost treatment, a business that faces significant political pressure in the US. The new entity, which will be renamed upon the deal’s closure, will have a portfolio that includes impotence drug Viagra, cholesterol pills Lipitor, painkiller Lyrica and the life-saving EpiPen treatment for severe allergic reactions. The merger comes amid rising competition in generic drugs from companies in India and elsewhere, a segment of pharma that is known for having low barriers to entry and commodity-like products. Joining forces with Pfizer’s off-patent division, called Upjohn, will give Mylan access to more international markets. The deal also is expected to result in $1 billion in annual cost savings starting in 2023, the companies said.

Kingdom set to mark World Breastfeeding Week 2019 Phnom Penh Post 30th Jul 2019
The Ministry of Health is collaborating with nutrition-focused NGOs and UN agencies to support and promote breastfeeding as the first and only source of food for infants from birth to six months and as a supplement until the child is two years or older. In a press release issued on Monday ahead of World Breastfeeding Week 2019, the ministry said proper breastfeeding is vital to reduce the infant malnutrition and mortality rate. “World Breastfeeding Week is celebrated by more than 120 nations across the world to promote the importance of breastfeeding and to reduce infant malnutrition and the death rate,” said the press release.

Ministry: Dengue fever cases kill 24, see fivefold increase Phnom Penh Post 28th Jul 2019
Twenty-four people have been killed by dengue fever in the first six months of this year – a fivefold increase on the same period last year when seven people died from the virus. There have been more than 10,000 reported cases of dengue so far this year, but officials said the Ministry of Health is working hard to prevent the situation from deteriorating. Huy Rekol, the director of the Ministry of Health’s National Centre for Parasitology, Entomology and Malaria Control, said that as of this weekend, there had been 13,000 cases of dengue this year, with 24 people having died in hospital after being brought in late and in serious conditions.

Cambodia’s medical system is due for a check-up Phnom Penh Post 10th Jul 2019
In Cambodia, many high-ranking government officials and public figures seek medical treatment abroad – including Prime Minister Hun Sen. With this in mind, it is not surprising that many locals also seem to often distrust local healthcare facilities. Cambodia has one of the fastest growing economies in the region. Last year, the country saw another year of seven per cent GDP growth, and such trends have led to an increase in national wealth and living standards. Despite this rapid development, more and more people are going abroad to access healthcare services. The number of outbound Cambodians travelling for medical purposes and holidays in general rose from 1.2 million in 2015 to 1.4 million in 2016, out of a population of 15.76 million. Between 24 and 30 per cent of Cambodian tourists travel to Vietnam and Thailand for such purposes. This is a concern, given the negative implications for the national healthcare system.

Tobacco-related illnesses kill 15,000 in Cambodia per year: UN-led study Xinhua 4th Jul 2019
PHNOM PENH, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Tobacco-related illnesses claimed about 15,000 lives in Cambodia a year, costing the country's economy 657 million U.S. dollars, or three percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), said a United Nations-led new study released on Thursday. "These costs are due to health care expenditures and 'hidden' productivity losses from premature mortality, disabilities and smoking breaks," said a joint statement publicized during the launching ceremony of a study report on health and economic costs of tobacco use in Cambodia. Other than the health and economic costs of tobacco use, the study also estimated the potential health and economic gains from scaled up implementation of evidence-based tobacco control measures, the statement said. Scaling up tobacco control measures would save 57,000 Cambodian lives and avert 1.9 billion dollars in health costs and economic losses by 2033, it said, adding that this would translate into 3,815 lives saved annually. "The investment case study clearly shows that tobacco is harming our people and our economy," Cambodian Health Ministry Secretary of State Oeurn Borarorth said during the launching ceremony. "The government is committed to implementing the necessary measures to better the health of all, save lives and improve the economic well-being of the country and the people," he said. As a party to the world's tobacco control international treaty -- the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), Cambodia has taken important steps to reduce tobacco use, the statement said.

ICT

Cambodia’s Adoption of Huawei’s 5G Brings Risk to Freedom of Speech, Critics Warn VOA 2nd Aug 2019
Cambodia recently became the first country in Southeast Asia to begin building the fifth-generation (5G) internet network developed by the Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies. Cambodia's early adoption of Huawei’s 5G network fits with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s tightening the political and economic relationship with Beijing, which has prompted a surge of Chinese investment across a range of sectors. 5G Internet speed is as much as 100 times faster than 4G and will be central to a future world of smart cities filled with smart homes and offices replete with devices connected to the “internet of things”.

Cambodia's Smart Axiata tests 5G network with China's Huawei Reuters 8th Jul 2019
Cambodia’s Smart Axiata said it had begun 5G trials in partnership with China’s Huawei Technologies on Monday and could start rolling out the mobile network by this year. Smart Axiata, part of Malaysia’s Axiata Group Behard, serves half of the 16 million population of the Southeast Asian nation, whose government signed a memorandum of understanding in April with Huawei to help develop its 5G telecoms system. “It will not be a nationwide coverage from day one, it will be hot spot first, it will be an urban areas first and then we will gradually expand,” Smart Axiata’s chief executive Thomas Hundt told reporters after the trial.

Smart Axiata, Huawei work on 5G network for Kingdom The Phnom Penh Post 9th Jul 2019
The Kingdom’s leading mobile operator, Smart Axiata Co Ltd, announced on Monday that it had begun 5G trials in partnership with Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and may launch the mobile network later this year. Smart Axiata CEO Thomas Hundt said the firm will continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the technology.

Grab takes on Cambodia's PassApp for ride-hailing supremacy Nikkei Asian Review 8th Jul 2019
Grab's push to dominate Cambodia's nascent ride-hailing market is squeezing local leader PassApp and fueling a brutal price war that has drivers caught in the middle. In a sign of how fierce the competition has become, more than 100 PassApp drivers staged a demonstration in the capital protesting fare cuts by the company. PassApp has said moves by its Singaporean rival have left it no choice but to lower prices. The drivers also delivered a letter to Grab asking it to increase its rates, according to reports. While PassApp has relied on strong name recognition -- for many, the brand is a generic word for a hailing a vehicle via an app -- Grab has at its disposal a massive war chest and a sophisticated platform offering a wide range of services beyond ride-hailing. Ride-hailing apps first emerged in Cambodia around three years ago, and more than a dozen local players quickly piled into the sector. Some have already been forced out, however, and the arrival of more overseas players -- including Singapore's Tada earlier this year -- is only increasing the competition. Should other major players come to Cambodia, such as Indonesia's Go-Jek, which is eyeing expansion, experts say it will be even tougher for local services to survive.

Infrastructure

Cambodia needs a smart plan The ASEAN Post 2nd Aug 2019
While Cambodia might be pulling out all the stops to develop its smart cities, the lack of an integrated master plan is hampering these efforts. The ASEAN Smart Cities Framework defines a smart city as one that harnesses technological, digital solutions and innovative, non-technological means to address urban challenges – continuously improving people’s lives and creating new opportunities. Envisioned in April 2018 as a platform to support the creation of technologically advanced urban areas in the region, the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) has three Cambodian cities in its initial list of 26 pilot cities from across Southeast Asia – Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.

Spotlight: ASEAN, including Cambodia, hugely benefit from BRI: Cambodian experts Xinhua 8th Aug 2019
The members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) including Cambodia are greatly benefiting from the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Cambodian experts said here on Thursday. Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute Cambodia (IRIC), an arm of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the BRI has importantly contributed to enhancing economic growth and development in ASEAN as well as in the world at large.

CDC: Improve infrastructure to draw investment to border Phnom Penh Post 7th Aug 2019
The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) has urged relevant parties to increase efforts to attract more foreign investors to border areas. CDC secretary-general Sok Chenda Sophea said to achieve this, it is necessary to develop infrastructure there such as special economic zones (SEZ), connect them to the power grid and identify attractive industry sectors. Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Um Reatrey told The Post on Monday that due to its favourable geographical location near Thailand’s seaports, the province possesses a high potential for investment.

PM: Gov’t spends $300M per month on infrastructure Phnom Penh Post 30th Jul 2019
The government spends around $300 million per month on infrastructure while earning “$500 million in revenue”, said Prime Minister Hun Sen. Included in the $300 million price tag are “constructions, repairs and salaries”. Speaking during an inspection on Monday of the Morodok Techo National Stadium’s construction site, located in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district, Hun Sen said the Kingdom’s economy is expected to grow 7.1 per cent this year.

Cambodia construction approvals hit $3.1bn in Q2 as China piles in Nikkei Asian Review 11th Jul 2019
Approved construction investment in Cambodia surged nearly 90% to $3.1 billion in the second quarter, according to new data, as "bullish" Chinese investors dominate a booming condominium market in Phnom Penh. The figures show an 86% rise compared to the first three months of the year, with the $3.1 billion, split across 1,008 projects. The figures also include infrastructure projects, a sector dominated by China, which is providing Cambodia billions in loans to build roads, bridges, ports and airports.

Shanxi helps construct Cambodia's largest airport Khmer Times 11th Jul 2019
Shanxi Mechanization Construction Group recently won the bid to build two sections of the new Siem Reap Angkor International Airport project in Cambodia for 290 million yuan ($42.16 million). The existing Angkor International Airport in Siem Reap, 5 kilometers from the famous ancient temple complex and world tourism site Angkor Wat, has only one runway.

Travel & Tourism

Sixfold increase in investment from Jan to May Khmer Times 25th Jul 2019
The Council for the Development of Cambodia approved $3.6 billion in investment projects during the first five months of the year, a six-fold increase over the corresponding period last year, according to the latest report from the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Eighty-one projects were greenlighted by CDC, with two tourism-related projects accounting for a significant portion of the overall investment, the report noted. While the names of the projects were not disclosed, the report referred to them as a “tourism center” and a “tourism vacation town”, valued at $1.4 billion and $1.5 billion, respectively. Sothida An, CBRE Cambodia director, told Khmer Times on Wednesday that the number of tourism-related projects has increased markedly in the last few years as a result of better transportation infrastructure and connectivity with the region and the world.

Kingdom’s first tour guide booking app is launched Tourism of Cambodia 24th Jul 2019
Guide Direk, the Kingdom’s first tour guide booking app, was launched by local travel agency Matong Co Ltd on Friday to assist tour guides in finding more clients, the agency’s CEO Khim Maland said. Maland, who is also the app’s executive director, said during its launch that it will allow both domestic and international tourists to book a guided tour. “I see that tour guides depend on travel agents and tour companies, so we tried to set up a booking app for them,” he said. Maland said Guide Direk will also help attract more foreign tourists to Cambodia.

Cambodia vows to end ‘zero-dollar’ tour packages The Myanmar Times 23rd Jul 2019
Speaking at a tourism event in Siem Reap province last week, Minister Thong Khon said that low-cost or ‘zero-dollar’ tours bring unsuspecting tourists to businesses in which they are coerced into purchasing expensive goods. In exchange for bringing in tourists, the tour operators receive large kickbacks from the business, he said. “This is a problem damaging the country’s reputation. This practice needs to be eradicated,” he said, explaining that the practice makes tourists feel “cheated” and discourages them from visiting the country again. “Please don’t blame the tourists. Blame the companies that are selling ‘zero-dollar’ tour packages,” Mr Khon said.

Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam intensify tourism connectivity The Cambodia Daily 16th Jul 2019
The building of a plan on tourism development at the Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Development Triangle Area was the main topic of a seminar in Pleiku city, the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai, on July 15. The plan targets sustainable tourism development and tourism connectivity between the three countries, thus helping to spur socio-economic development in the area.

Tourism Minister calls for more direct flights in Asean Khmer Times 14th Jul 2019
The minister made the call during the opening of the 50th Asean National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) Meeting in Siem Reap. Cambodia hosted the annual event on July 10-12. In attendance were tourism officials and representatives from the ten Asean countries. The minister said direct flights are critical to the development of tourism industries of countries within the regional grouping. The minister stressed the need for Asean countries to continue working together to address the many challenges facing the tourism sector.

Post Media, Siem Reap Tourism Club sign MoU on industry collaboration Phnom Penh Post 9th Jul 2019
Post Media Co Ltd, the owner of The Phnom Penh Post and Post Khmer, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Siem Reap Tourism Club (STC) on Friday, to collaborate in supporting the tourism industry for sustainable development in the province. Also launched at the event in Siem Reap was Post Watch, a news programme in English and Khmer that is the first of its kind in Cambodia and hosted on the fastest-growing video platform – Facebook Watch.

Cambodia, Malaysia to Reach Tourism Cooperation Deal Agence Kapuchea Presse 1st Jul 2019
Cambodia and Malaysia will sign a tourism cooperation deal to further promote the industry among the two nations during the planned visit of Prime Minister of Malaysia to Cambodia later this year.Both sides agreed to cooperate in drafting the deal in the form of a memorandum of understanding in the meeting between Cambodian Minister of Tourism H.E. Thong Khon and H.E. Eldeen Husaini Mohd Hashim, newly appointed Malaysian Ambassador to Cambodia, here in Phnom Penh yesterday afternoon. The Malaysian ambassador stressed on the promotion of health tourism and golf tourism as well as overall tourism through organisation of festivals, especially food festival, and creation of training courses for tour guides.