Cambodia Update: January 30, 2020

Cambodia Update | January 30, 2020
Authors: Jack Myint and Jake Corfman
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

February 25-27: Food & Agriculture Mission to Indonesia and ASEAN Safe, Nutritious Food PPP Initiative Workshop
March 5-6: Health & Life Sciences Mission to Vietnam

March 26-27: 2020 Mission to the ASEAN Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ Meeting, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam 

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

EU’s Withdrawal of EBA Imminent After Trial of Opposition Leaders Commences

In February 2020, The European Union (EU) will make its final decision on whether to strip Cambodia of the privileges the country receives under the EU’s Everything but Arms (EBA) trade preference scheme. During multiple rounds of negotiations between the European Commission and the Cambodian Government on the matter, the EU has stood firm on its demands for the unconditional dropping of all charges against former opposition Cambodian National Recue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha and his party members, restoration of the CNRP as a political party, and the promise of a free press. Without those demands met, and with both sides apparently unable to reach a compromise, the chances of Cambodia being stripped of EBA privileges seem imminent.

EBA has played a crucial role in Cambodia’s economic development over the years, particularly for its garment sector, on which approximately 300,000 local Cambodian jobs rely. According to statistics from Cambodia’s Department of Commerce, EU-Cambodia bilateral trade in 2018 stood at approximately US$8 billion. In addition, the EU ranked as Cambodia’s second largest trade partner – trailing only China – and accounts for around 17 percent of total inward investment in Cambodia. It is important to note that even after the EU withdraws EBA status, Cambodia will still be able to export its garment products to the European market, so long as it pays the tariff and import duties. However, this will largely impact Cambodia’s ability to maintain its price competitiveness in the long run, compared to other countries with similarly low labor and production costs.

The Cambodian Government has already started looking at diversifying its export markets as a means to cope with the aftermath of EBA withdrawal. The latest political development indicates the Cambodian government might have already started re-calibrating its export strategies. Cambodia has been actively looking for alternative markets in China, South Korea and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in recent months.

In December 2019, Cambodian and Chinese officials met in Beijing to discuss a feasibility study, which could pave the way for Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations. Both countries will meet again in April in Siam Reap. Similarly, in November 2019, South Korea’s Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee and Cambodia’s Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak signed a deal to commence a feasibility study for a Cambodia-South Korea FTA. Cambodia’s negotiations with the EAEU preceded both of these, having started in early 2019. The EAEU, according to a report from the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce, has so far agreed to provide tariff-free accesses for 46 Cambodian-made products for the period of three years. Given that all three free trade negotiations are ongoing, specific timelines for their conclusion are unknown at this time.

Cambodia Announces Five-Year Strategic Plan to Promote Agriculture

On December 25 of last year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries launched an ambitious five-year strategic plan (2019-2023) to develop Cambodia’s agriculture sector. Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Veng Sakhon, stated that the strategy provides an important blueprint that will not only guide the enhancement of farming and related products, but also the way products are delivered to consumers. Within the statement, he elaborated on the goals of the strategy, which are:
•    Upgrading agriculture from traditional practices to an advanced agribusiness;
•    Enhancing productivity;
•    Diversifying potential crops; and
•    Meeting marketing needs while taking sustainability, globalization and modern technology into consideration. 
The plan includes encouraging the creation of agricultural cooperatives between farmers and creating opportunities for farmers to cooperate with the private sector under public-private partnerships.

If everything goes according to plan, the cooperative and contract farming approach is expected to ensure sufficient supplies, market accessibility, and stable prices. “The ministry is pushing, supporting and encouraging the private sector, small and medium enterprises and development partners to invest in the processing sector to ensure sustainable, local productivity, stable markets and value-added products while promoting quality, sanitation and safety standards in order to comply with the demands of domestic and international markets,” Minister Sakhon stated in the launch ceremony for the strategy. A report by the World Food Program analyzing the initiative can be found here.
 

IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Indian ambassador hails rapidly growing bilateral ties
What to expect from the Kingdom’s foreign policy in 2020
Agreement signed with Vietnam
PM calls for continuous investment from Vietnamese businessmen
Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General pledges to support Cambodia’s development
Bangladesh MP meets Hun Sen, discusses bilateral cooperation

National Affairs
Private sector leaders to meet with Hun Sen
Ministry of Environment to acquire particulate monitors for provinces
National Strategic Development Plan to combat corruption
Ministry cements MoU with eleven social work NGOs
Government formulates new policy on urban waste management
Eav Chamroeun joins Interior Ministry anti-drug department
Land Management Ministry to move to Sen Sok
Sub-committee created to bolster social security system
Ministry officials meet with NGO representatives over Lango
Ministry report highlights public service challenges
Interior Ministry surveys One Window Services in four areas

Defense & Security
Work on law on WMD financing continues
Defence Minister Tea Banh to visit Turkey for talks on defence cooperation
Tea Banh tells navy to boost its ongoing security assignments
New Security Plan Puts Vietnam-Cambodia Defense Ties in the Headlines
4th Cambodia-China Military Exercise to be held in March

Energy
KrisEnergy commissions offshore Cambodia geotechnical studies
LNG imported from China to Cambodia
Investment on ‘waste to energy’ boosted
Malaysia’s oil and gas giant Petronas keen on return
China provides 1,500 biodigester tanks for farmers in provinces

Financial Services
Visa provides grant to boost women’s financial literacy

Food & Agriculture
App to connect farmers to millions
Ministry distributes livestock to farmers
Cambodia invites Vietnam to invest in rice processing
NBC calls for financial products to develop agricultural sector
Education Ministry launches food safety drive in schools
Cambodia's cashew nut exports nearly double in 2019
First Cambodian mango exports to South Korea officially launch
Rice sector eyes rebound after small exports drop
Optimising growth in the rice sector
Boosting domestic vegetable production to curb imports
Foreign food processors attracted by Kingdom’s diverse agriculture
Ambitious agricultural development strategic plan launched
Agriculture Ministry Rejects Criticism Over Low Rice Prices

Health & Life Sciences
Coronavirus claims more than 106 lives in China, Cambodia heightens scrutiny
Coronavirus confirmed in Cambodia
Ninety medical staff complete Titan training
Czech Republic donates medical equipment to National Paediatric Hospital
Health Ministry on alert for new SARS-like virus
Transcending dental medication
Calls for faster import, export of medicines
Ministries tackle drug resistance
In sickness and in debt: Medical expenses linked to informal borrowing
IOM, Cambodia Launch New Project to Detect, Manage TB among Migrants on Thai-Cambodian Border - Cambodia

ICT
UNDP launches initiative to tackle challenges
PM seeks Japan’s help in developing blockchain tech
Two more telecom firms join 5G scramble

Infrastructure
End of an era as O’tres beach cleared of vendors
Ministry: Work on National Road 3 nearly halfway done
Ministry drafting urban solid waste management policy
Battambang domestic airport revival plans mooted
Land Ministry issues new guidelines for safety of construction
France to provide $100 million for water pumping station project
Is Cambodian infrastructure ready for real estate in 2020?
A Jungle Airstrip Stirs Suspicions About China’s Plans for Cambodia

Travel & Tourism
Malaysian firms keen in wastewater treatment and eco-tourism: Ambassador
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Indian ambassador hails rapidly growing bilateral ties Khmer Times 26th Jan 2020
Indian Ambassador to Cambodia, Manika Jain has hailed rapidly growing ties between her country and the Kingdom, noting the strides made since Prime Minister Hun Sen was the guest of honour at India’s Rebublic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2018. During a speech at a reception to mark India’s 71st Republic Day at the Raffles Hotel on Friday, Ms Jain said milestones in bilateral cooperation have been made in the socio-economic, agricultural, defence, security, technology and civil sectors as well as training and capacity building and foreign relations.

What to expect from the Kingdom’s foreign policy in 2020 Khmer Times 22nd Jan 2020
The new decade started with increased tensions in relations between world powers which threaten peace. How will this affect Cambodia’s foreign policy Khmer Times speaks to Chheang Vannarith, president of Asian Vision Institute, to gain insight into the situation.

Agreement signed with Vietnam Phnom Penh Post 21st Jan 2020
Cambodia and Vietnam have signed a 2020 cooperation plan to continue efforts to stop cross-border crimes and increase security cooperation. Minister of Interior Sar Kheng signed the agreement with Vietnamese Minister of Public Security To Lam during a visit to Vietnam over the weekend.

PM calls for continuous investment from Vietnamese businessmen Khmer Times 18th Jan 2020
Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday called on Vietnamese investors to continue investing in Cambodia to further expand trade between the two countries, especially in rice processing for export. Speaking at a solidarity dinner with the Vietnamese community and businessmen in Cambodia on the occasion of the Vietnamese Lunar New Year 2020 on Friday, the premier commended the progress of the Vietnamese economy in recent years.

Special Adviser to UN Secretary-General pledges to support Cambodia’s development Khmer Times 10th Jan 2020
Special Adviser to the Secretary General of the UN Jeffrey D. Sachs said he will assist Cambodia in its progress respond to its development within the ASEAN market, said Eang Sophalleth, personal assistant of Prime Minister Hun Sen. According to Mr Sopheallet, Mr Sachs during a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen today said he has witnessed rapid development in Cambodia, including economy, health and many other sectors.

Bangladesh MP meets Hun Sen, discusses bilateral cooperation Khmer Times 6th Jan 2020
Bangladesh member of parliament Muhammad Faruk Khan yesterday met with Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace to discuss strengthening ties with the Kingdom, including the construction of roads in Phnom Penh and Dhaka named after two major national figures.

National Affairs

Private sector leaders to meet with Hun Sen Phnom Penh Post 28th Jan 2020
The private sector will meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen in April for the 19th Government-Private Sector Forum, which aims to address issues being faced by the business community. Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and director of coordination for the forum, said the meeting allows the prime minister to directly engage with business leaders and offer solutions to their problems.

Ministry of Environment to acquire particulate monitors for provinces Phnom Penh Post 28th Jan 2020
The Ministry of Environment said it plans on acquiring 15 particulate monitors, which can measure air particulates with 10 and 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM10 and PM2.5), for installation in the provinces. Meanwhile, Ministry secretary of state and spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on Monday that the air quality in the capital and provinces had returned to normal.

National Strategic Development Plan to combat corruption Phnom Penh Post 28th Jan 2020
The government has introduced the National Strategic Development Plan 2019-23 which will focus on increasing awareness and reinforcing precautionary measures and strategies to crack down and combat corruption. The strategies come in conjunction with the increasing need for ministries and institutions to collaborate with the public and private sector, particularly educational institutions, where cases of corruption are rampant.

Ministry cements MoU with eleven social work NGOs Phnom Penh Post 28th Jan 2020
The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation on Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with 11 organisations involving $12.7 million in funding to improve the social affairs, social welfare, child welfare, anti-trafficking and disability work in Cambodia.

Government formulates new policy on urban waste management Khmer Times 27th Jan 2020
The government is formulating a new policy on urban garbage collection to strengthen waste management and protect the environment better. Neth Pheaktra, Environment Ministry spokesman, said at a press conference yesterday the policy is being formulated following termination of Cintri (Cambodia) Ltd’s licence to collect and dispose of urban garbage.

Eav Chamroeun joins Interior Ministry anti-drug department Khmer Times 27th Jan 2020
The Interior Ministry yesterday reported the reassignment of Major General Eav Chamroeun, chief of Kandal provincial police, accused of corruption last year by a group of unnamed officers. According to an Interior Ministry letter, Maj Gen Chamroeun will now work as deputy chief of the ministry’s anti-drug department, while his deputy will replace him in Kandal.

Land Management Ministry to move to Sen Sok Khmer Times 22nd Jan 2020
The Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction announced  yesterday it will be relocating from its current premises in Chamkar Mon district to a new building in Sen Sok district next year. It appealed to people living near the construction site to cooperate with the ministry to make the project successful.

Sub-committee created to bolster social security system Phnom Penh Post 21st Jan 2020
In a bid to improve the welfare of the poor and most vulnerable, the government has reinforced the National Social Protection Council (NSPC) with the creation of a Social Assistance Sub-Committee (SASC). As per Sub-Decree No 244 – signed on December 31, last year by Prime Minister Hun Sen – the SASC is tasked with coordinating the development of the social assistance system, and supporting, monitoring and evaluating the progress made in its implementation.

Ministry officials meet with NGO representatives over Lango Khmer Times 20th Jan 2020
Interior Ministry officials yesterday met with representatives of civil society group over amendments to the Law on Association and Non-governmental Organisations and asked them to submit their bank statements to the ministry to curb terrorist financing and money laundering. Speaking during the meeting at the Interior Ministry yesterday, Bun Honn, a secretary of state at the ministry, said that to maintain national security and public order, all NGOs are required to produce bank statements and send them to the ministry.

Ministry report highlights public service challenges Khmer Times 20th Jan 2020
According to its 2019 annual report and the 2020 outlook issued yesterday, some institutions and departments in the Kingdom are facing challenges to financial management and law enforcement in terms of public services. “Some hotels and tour guides in Siem Reap are not licenced,” it said. “Forestry law enforcement is not strict in Mondulkiri, Stung Treng and Pursat provinces... The management of weighing stations are not effective in some locations,” it added. “The prevention of overloaded trucks from being on the road has not been effective.”

Interior Ministry surveys One Window Services in four areas Khmer Times 2nd Jan 2020
The Interior Ministry is looking to improve One Window Services in three provinces and the capital to better manage issues surrounding land ahead of its official launch at the end of this month. Prak Sam Oeuen, director-general of the Interior Ministry’s general administration department, yesterday said residents who want to resolve land issues have to go through the One Window Services at Provincial Halls and at its current stage, the process is cumbersome.

Defense & Security

Work on law on WMD financing continues Phnom Penh Post 28th Jan 2020
A draft law on curtailing the financing of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) has been reviewed by local officials and is on course to reach the National Assembly, according to the Ministry of Interior.

Defence Minister Tea Banh to visit Turkey for talks on defence cooperation Khmer Times 24th Jan 2020
National Defence Minister General Tea Banh and his senior military delegations will pay a six-day visit to Turkey at the invitation of General Hulusi akar, Turkish Defence Minister. According to a press release, Gen Banh is set to visit Turkey from January 26 to 31 and he will hold a bilateral meeting with his Turkish counterpart to strengthen Cambodia-Turkey defence cooperation.

Tea Banh tells navy to boost its ongoing security assignments Phnom Penh Post 21st Jan 2020
Minister of National Defence Tea Banh has instructed the Kingdom’s navy to enhance their efforts to maintain peace and order along the country’s waterways. Speaking at a workshop on Monday for the navy’s 2020 plan, Banh said it must coordinate with local police forces while carrying out its duties to protect the nation. “Enhance observation stations along islands. Pay attention, maintain security and public order and cooperate with relevant police at all levels to enforce laws, and prevent and crack down on offences in a timely manner,” he said.

New Security Plan Puts Vietnam-Cambodia Defense Ties in the Headlines The Diplomat 21st Jan 2020
Over the weekend, Vietnam and Cambodia inked a new security cooperation plan. The signing of the agreement highlighted the defense aspect of the wider relationship between the two countries as well as how they continue to manage the opportunities and challenges therein amid wider domestic and regional developments. Cambodia and Vietnam, two neighboring Southeast Asian states, share a defense relationship as part of their wider diplomatic ties. Apart from the fact that Vietnam provides the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) with military equipment, infrastructure, and training, both countries have also looked to manage more sensitive areas of the relationship such as outstanding issues over their shared 700-mile long border, illegal fishing, and China’s growing influence in mainland Southeast Asia.

4th Cambodia-China Military Exercise to be held in March Khmer Times 14th Jan 2020
The fourth joint military exercise, involving Cambodia and China, the Golden Dragon to showcase the iron clad friendship of the two nations are scheduled to be held in March this year. Major General Thong Solimo, Spokesperson of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) in stating this revealed that approximately 2000 soldiers will take participate in the military drill, to be held at the Techo Sen Chum Kiri Military Institute in Kampot province under the theme “Counter-terrorism and Humanitarian Relief.”,

Energy

KrisEnergy commissions offshore Cambodia geotechnical studies Offshore 28th Jan 2020
KrisEnergy has contracted Fugro for geotechnical investigations for the Apsara oil field project in block A offshore Cambodia. Apsara will provide the first ever production from the Khmer basin in the Gulf of Thailand. Fugro will use the drillship Fugro Mariner to conduct shallow gas pilot-hole drilling and cone penetration tests and to drill geotechnical sample boreholes, all related to the design and installation phases of the Apsara Mini Phase 1A development.

LNG imported from China to Cambodia Khmer Times 15th Jan 2020
Local business Cambodian Natural Gas Co Ltd and Chinese firm CNOOC Gas Power Group Co Ltd teamed up in importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) to distribute within Cambodia’s market.The company’s officers said the cooperation is to import the LNG to supply  demand in the local market, as the company focuses on hotels and restaurants in the first-step plan. Pheng Sros Choronei, administration officer at Cambodia Natural Gas, said yesterday that the LNG containers were shipped in from China and arrived at Cambodia’s Sihanoukville port on Tuesday.

Investment on ‘waste to energy’ boosted Khmer Times 14th Jan 2020
Investment on converting waste to energy in Cambodia has been boosted as part of urban garbage management in what officials said would help to keep the country clean and generate power for the grid. Investment in generating power from burning waste is mentioned in the draft on urban waste management policy which is being discussed by inter-ministries mainly led by the Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Environment. The policy was discussed yesterday with participants including the heads of the inter-ministries of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ministry of Environment and Phnom Penh City Hall.

Malaysia’s oil and gas giant Petronas keen on return Khmer Times 9th Jan 2020
Malaysia’s national petroleum company Petroliam Nasional Bhd, or Petronas, is aiming to return to Cambodia to tap into a growing oil and gas sector, according to ambassador Eldeen Husaini Mohamed Hashim yesterday. Mr Eldeen Husaini met with Energy and Mines Minister Suy Sem at the ministry yesterday and afterwards the former said Petronas wants to return to the Kingdom after withdrawing from the market nine years ago.

China provides 1,500 biodigester tanks for farmers in provinces Khmer Times 6th Jan 2020
China has provided 1,500 biodigester tanks for distribution to farmers in seven provinces for them to convert animal waste into cooking gas and protect the environment. Chen Visal, head of Prey Veng province’s agriculture department’s animal health and production bureau, yesterday said that early this month, China provided 200 large biodigester tank to the province, five of which have already been installed.

Financial Services

Visa provides grant to boost women’s financial literacy Phnom Penh Post 16th Jan 2020
VISA Inc has teamed up with the Cambodian government in the ongoing Promoting Financial Literacy for Women and Women Entrepreneurs Project, which aims to boost productivity and efficiency in the Kingdom’s socio-economic development, the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) said on Thursday. Visa plans to provide the NBC and Ministry of Women’s Affairs $50,000 in grant funding for the project, which runs between August 2019 and August 2020 covering Kratie, Stung Treng, Preah Vihear, and Siem Reap provinces. Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi stated that financial illiteracy among women has left women entrepreneurs facing loans with particularly high interest rates and debt traps. The initiative comes amid the government’s National Strategy for Financial Inclusiveness 2019-2025, which seeks to increase consumer protection and financial transparency.

Food & Agriculture

App to connect farmers to millions Phnom Penh Post 28th Jan 2020
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has soft-launched a mobile app that connects farmers with potential buyers and gives them access to critical market information. The ministry’s Agriculture Marketing Office chief Meach Yady said the ‘CamAgriMarket’ app gives farmers a platform to showcase their products to millions of potential buyers across the country.

Ministry distributes livestock to farmers Phnom Penh Post 28th Jan 2020
Ministry of Environment officials on Sunday distributed breeding stock to 62 families living in communities in the Koh Indra Chey natural protected area in Kratie province’s Sambor Wildlife Sanctuary.

Cambodia invites Vietnam to invest in rice processing NST Online 21st Jan 2020
Prime Minister Hun Sen has invited Vietnamese businessmen to invest in the country’s rice processing sector. He said annual rice exports to Vietnam were between one and two million tonnes, and their investment could benefit the people of both nations. “I am optimistic that Vietnamese and foreign investors will choose Cambodia as an investment destination,” he said at an annual dinner with the Vietnamese business community in Cambodia.

NBC calls for financial products to develop agricultural sector Phnom Penh Post 13th Jan 2020
The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) has encouraged financial institutions to add new products and services to contribute to the development of the agricultural sector. Its deputy governor Neav Chanthana who said this was speaking at the 6th NBC Annual Macroeconomic Conference on the theme Agriculture Sector in a Rapid Structural Transformation and Uncertain Global Trade Environment which was held on Monday at its headquarters in the capital.

Education Ministry launches food safety drive in schools Khmer Times 5th Jan 2020
The Education Ministry has launched a nationwide campaign aimed at promoting food safety in schools and ensuring that a ban on the sale of harmful foodstuff is strictly followed. Education Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha, yesterday said that the campaign will be carried out in target schools in the capital and some provinces to ensure that the food doesn’t contain chemicals and is hygienically prepared. “The main purpose of this campaign is to widely disseminate information to all key stakeholders, such as the school management committee, the school’s principal and food vendors in the schools, to strictly monitor the foodstuff being sold,” he said.

Cambodia's cashew nut exports nearly double in 2019 The Star Online 14th Jan 2020
Cambodia exported some 202,318 tonnes of cashew nuts last year to foreign markets, up nearly 100 per cent from 2018’s 101,973 tonnes, a Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries report said. Khan Samban, director of the ministry’s Department of Agro-Industry, told The Post that the strong growth in exports is due to the ministry’s simplification of export procedure and the commodity’s improved standards. Khan said he expects cashew nut prices to fall to around 5,000 or 6,000 riel (US$1.23 or $1.48) per kilogramme in the early harvest season this year and predicts cashew nut yield to increase this year due to an increase in cultivation. The report said Cambodia’s main cashew nut export destinations are Vietnam, Russia, South Korea, China, Peru, Myanmar, India, Australia, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. The area allotted to cashew nut cultivation totals 149,660ha, spanning 22 provinces. Almost 60 per cent is harvested land, which yielded 116,343 tonnes in 2018, data from the ministry shows. In 2018, the ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with Vietnamese Cashew Association (Vinacas) to increase Cambodia’s cashew nut exports to one million tonnes by 2028.

First Cambodian mango exports to South Korea officially launch Khmer Times 10th Jan 2020
Hyundai Agro, a South Korean based company, announced on Wednesday that it will begin the official export for the first consignment of Cambodian fresh mangoes to its home country market next week. Chang-Hoon Lee, managing director of Hyundai Agro, told Khmer Times that his company will send both yellow and green mangos weighing between 5 to 20 tonnes every day to the market from 15 January onwards.He said now many Korean supermarkets are waiting for the Cambodian fruit. To reach the market, according to Mr Chang, the company will send the fruit via air and ship.It is my big concern that Cambodia logistic fees are very high when comparing to others.The company’s signed contracts with 23 farmers in Kampong Speu and Kapot, and through the scheme allows to first collect 3,800 tonnes of fresh mangoes from them. Hyundai Agro’s three-hectare fruit processing facility opened in December last year. The Korean firm teamed up with local mango producer Mao Legacy to plant mangoes on 2,400 hectares in Kampong Speu province. Mr Chan said that the company is now looking to grow dragon fruits and add a vegetable business in addition to exporting mangoes to Hong Kong, Singapore, and Korea.

Rice sector eyes rebound after small exports drop Phnom Penh Post 5th Jan 2020
Rice exports reached 620,106 tonnes last year, a drop of almost one per cent from the 626,225 tonnes the previous year, the Cambodian Rice Federation (CRF) said. The total value of exports dropped more than four per cent last year from 2018, CRF added. Coupled with the 1.43 per cent decline between 2018 and 2017, the modest drop marks the second consecutive year that exports have fallen. According to a CRF report obtained by The Post on Wednesday, the total value of the Kingdom’s rice exports were valued at some $501 million in 2019, down 4.3 per cent from $524 million in 2018. A breakdown of the data showed that the 202,990 tonnes to the Chinese market accounted for 40.73 per cent of rice exports, followed by 13.41 per cent, or 83,164 tonnes, to the ASEAN region and 13.84 per cent, equal to 85,847 tonnes, to other markets. According to Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries data, Cambodia also exported 2.15 million tonnes of rice to Vietnam last year. Meanwhile, rice exports to European markets declined steadily after the EU imposed tariffs on rice imports from Cambodia last January. Myanmar was also hit with the tariffs.

Optimising growth in the rice sector Khmer Times 2nd Jan 2020
Cambodia’s rice sector is faced with the challenge of strengthening the quality of its fragrant rice, said Song Saran, president of the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), the recently appointed head of the milled rice export promotion body. His stated task is to sell 1 million tonnes per annum by the next three years. Saran is looking at markets in Asia – especially China – Africa and Australia as regions for growth but first must strengthen the quality and variety of rice crops and ensure there is a sufficient budget to  harvest it. Cambodia experienced a decline in milled rice exports to the EU this year because of tariff duties imposed by the European Union on Cambodia’s white Indica rice. However, the loss from the EU bloc, the biggest market for the country’s milled rice, has been replaced with increasing export to China and other new markets. Figures from the Secretariat of One Window Service for Rice Export, showed that Cambodia exported a total of 514,149 tonnes of rice to 59 countries and regions during the first 11 months of this year, up 3.4 percent over the same period last year. Cambodia shipped 174,397 tonnes of rice to the European market during the period, down 26 percent, the report read. On the other hand, Cambodia exported 205,358 tonnes of milled rice to China during the first 11 months of 2019, up 34 percent over the same period last year, according to the report. China was still the top buyer of Cambodian rice during the January-November period this year, with exports accounting for 40 percent of the Kingdom’s total.

Boosting domestic vegetable production to curb imports Khmer Times 2nd Jan 2020
The Ministry of Agriculture is taking action to grow more food domestically to cut down on imports. The country planted a variety of vegetables covering a total 58,000 hectares of land nationwide by the end of 2019 that produced 68 per cent of local market demand, according to Ministry of Agriculture’s spokesperson Srey Vuthy. By 2023, he wants this to increase to 63,000 hectares and 76 percent respectively, he said. The move would help Cambodia’s balance of payments, which currently sees more imports than exports. Non-domestic vegetable production mostly comes from Vietnam and Thailand. According to a report from the General Directorate of Agriculture, about 85 tonnes of vegetables are imported from Vietnam and 44 tonnes from Thailand per day. This figure covers Phnom Penh and eight other provinces only.

Foreign food processors attracted by Kingdom’s diverse agriculture Khmer Times 1st Jan 2020
Cambodia exported around 7 million tonnes of agricultural products in 2019, according to the minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Agriculture Minister Veng Sakhon said the figure was made up of 4.784 million tonnes of formal exports and more than 2 million tonnes of informal exports. The latter avoid tariffs. Veng said Cambodia exported 620,106 tonnes of milled rice, of which 248,105 (40.7 percent) went to China, 202, 990 tonnes (32 percent) to the EU, 83,164 tonnes (13.41 percent) to ASEAN members and 85,847 tonnes to other market destinations. Veng added that Cambodia also exported about 1.608 million tonnes of fresh cassava, 1.626 million tonnes of cassava starch, and 56,874 tonnes of cassava powder. In addition to that, 202,318 tonnes of cashew nuts, nearly 120,000 tonnes of corn, 57,250 tonnes of soybeans, nearly 157,812 tonnes of bananas, nearly 60 tonnes of mangoes, more than 3,693 tonnes of pepper and other crops amounting to 273,866 tonnes were exported by the Kingdom in 2019. According to the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), Cambodia’s milled rice export accounts for about 1.2 percent of the international market. CRF’s president Song Saran said that Cambodia’s markets are mostly Hong Kong, mainland China, Singapore and Malaysia.

Ambitious agricultural development strategic plan launched Khmer Times 25th Dec 2019
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries yesterday launched an ambitious five-year strategic plan to develop farming and push the agriculture sector to modernize, become more competitive and resilient to climate change and, in particular, to move on from labor-intensive traditional practices. The plan for 2019 and 2023 reflects government policy on developing agriculture alongside the ongoing development of society and the economy in Cambodia. Veng Sakhon, minister of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, said at the launch ceremony that the strategy provides an important road-map to enhance farming and its products and the way they are delivered to consumers. The strategic plan, urges the creation of agricultural cooperatives and wants farmers to cooperate with the private sector under an agricultural public-private partnership involving contract farming to ensure sufficient supplies, available markets and stable prices.

Agriculture Ministry Rejects Criticism Over Low Rice Prices VOA 20th Dec 2019
The Cambodian Agriculture Ministry rejected criticism circulating on social media about farmers getting low prices for their rice in the paddy-producing provinces of Battambang, Pursat and Banteay Meanchey. The ministry released a statement on Tuesday (Dec 17, 2019) claiming that farmers receiving low rice prices were selling poor quality rice and that prices were still within an acceptable range. Ministry officials were also working with rice mills to procure as much rice as possible from farmers. The claims of low prices, the ministry said, were “far from the truth” and that the ministry was ensuring that farmers’ paddy was purchased and at fair prices. “Actually, the ministry has been taking continuous action [on the issue], but some Facebook users published the old information, which is why the ministry had to issue a statement to inform the public,” said Chan Heng, the ministry’s deputy cabinet director. Following the wet season, farmers have complained about low rice prices and have even been asked to not plant a dry season crop on account of very low water levels across the country. Earlier this month, the Cambodia Rice Federation said it needed $200 million in working capital to buy rice from the farmers on account of shrinking loans available in the financial sector, with government allocating only $50 million of the required capital.

Health & Life Sciences

Coronavirus claims more than 106 lives in China, Cambodia heightens scrutiny Khmer Times 28th Jan 2020
Coronavirus, which originated Wuhan in December of last year, has now claimed 106 lives, all in China. The death toll increased dramatically since last night. In addition, more than 4500 cases have been reported worldwide, with the bulk of them in China’s Wuhan, located in Hubei province.

Coronavirus confirmed in Cambodia Khmer Times 27th Jan 2020
Health Minister Mam Bun Heng announced the first case of the Coronavirus has been detected on a Chinese tourist in Sihanoukville. Speaking at the press conference today Bun Heng said the patient has been put in a separate room in the hospital in Preah Sihanouk province for treatment. Laboratory tests confirmed today that the said patient, a 60 years old male had returned from Wuhan on 23rd January and developed fever and running nose on the 25th of January.

Ninety medical staff complete Titan training Khmer Times 16th Jan 2020
Ninety medical staffers from several major hospitals across the Kingdom have completed their three-year intensive care and nursing training provided by Singaporean trainers. Calmette Hospital, which hosted the three-year project, held a closing ceremony yesterday for the health care programme called Techniques in Intensive Care and Nursing. Chheang Ra, director of Calmette Hospital, said 90 medical trainees from six hospitals received the Titan training. They were from Calmette hospital, Khmer-Soviet Friendship hospital, Preah Kossamak hospital, Preah Sihanouk hospital, Koh Kong hospital and Siem Reap hospital. Mr Ra said the training was conducted at Calmette hospital in cooperation with Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Singapore and Temasek Foundation International. The Titan project, which ran from 2017 to 2019, trained Cambodian medical staff with new emergency techniques, he said.

Czech Republic donates medical equipment to National Paediatric Hospital Khmer Times 14th Jan 2020
The Czech Republic on Monday handed medical equipment worth more than $300,000 to the National Pediatric Hospital to promote infant and child healthcare. The equipment was handed to Health Minister Mam Bun Heng by Vlastimil Tesar, head of mission at the Czech embassy, during a ceremony in the hospital. Mr Bun Heng at the event said the Czech Republic provided more than 30 types of equipment, including incubators, ventilators and blood analysers, worth more than $300,000 for the hospital’s Neonatology Department.

Health Ministry on alert for new SARS-like virus Khmer Times 9th Jan 2020
The Health Ministry has installed thermal scanners at the Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk international airports to prevent the entry of a new virus strain, which causes pneumonia, found in China. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng said yesterday that the ministry has cooperated with the three international airports to prevent the transmission of the virus which has not yet been detected in the Kingdom.

Transcending dental medication Khmer Times 10th Jan 2020
Dental tourism in Asia has seen a steady growth in the last decade with countries such as Thailand and Vietnam becoming the hub for foreign patients seeking dental care. Taking into account  political stability and affordability of healthcare, the likes of Singapore, Thailand and Taiwan have become a magnet for dental tourism in the region. Cambodians are known to opt for neighbouring countries to seek healthcare because of the lack of faith in the existing medical sector in the country, but confidence in Khmer dentistry tells a different story.  With Thailand and Malaysia ramping up efforts to promote themselves as a more attractive option for medical treatment seekers, Cambodia’s dental sector has been enjoying a healthy number of what are now known as health tourists. Cambodia boasts low rates of dental fees and established clinics, including the likes of Pachem Dental and Roomchang, which have begun attracting patients from other countries such as the US and Australia. Pachem dental clinic sees a majority of their international clients coming from places like Australia, the United States, China, England, Canada, Japan, Russia, Germany, France, Ireland, Poland, New Zealand and South Korea. Pachem Chief Executive Officer Nary Keuk says many Cambodians go abroad for health checkups and medical treatment. However, when it comes to dental care, most are aware and even proud of the quality of dentistry available in the country.

Calls for faster import, export of medicines The Phnom Penh Post 2nd Jan 2020
Privately owned pharmaceutical companies have asked the Ministry of Health to simplify the process of importing and exporting pharmaceutical products to ensure sustainability and further promote the industry in the Kingdom. Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng on Tuesday led a working group to a second joint meeting with nearly 50 members of the private healthcare sector to determine the challenges faced by pharmaceutical companies. The meeting tackled issues such as the application process to obtain pharmaceutical drugs trade licences, import tariff rates, importing raw materials for manufacturing medicines, and drug registration. The prakas also states that pharmaceuticals, preventive medicines such as vaccines, and reactive medicines with less than 18 months before expiry are only valid for use for at least two-thirds of duration on arrival in Cambodia.

Ministries tackle drug resistance The Phnom Penh Post 24th Dec 2019
In a move to safeguard the lives of hundreds of thousands of people every year, the ministries of Health; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and Environment have launched a joint multi-sectoral action plan to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Despite much progress, AMR continues to pose a threat to Cambodia’s population and development, the action plan states. The UN World Health Organisation describes AMR as the ability of micro-organisms, such as bacteria, viruses and some parasites, to stop antimicrobials – including antibiotics, antivirals and antimalarials – from working against them. If AMR is not prevented, more than 700,000 people could die every year, according to a document prepared by the three ministries in May last year. The action plan – to run from this year to 2023 and include seven priority strategies to fight AMR in Cambodia – was launched on Monday in Phnom Penh by officials from the three ministries. A recent report by the World Bank and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said if no solution was found to AMR, low-income countries could lose more than five per cent of gross domestic product due to expenses in healthcare and losses in agricultural production.

In sickness and in debt: Medical expenses linked to informal borrowing Khmer Times 20th Dec 2019
Last month a study conducted by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia painted a bleak picture for Cambodia’s ailing healthcare system. While acknowledging progress made in the field of delivering quality healthcare and the government’s apparent commitment to its universal access, the study notes that Cambodia’s rural poor are most at risk. In fact, 28.1 percent of the 5,000 households studied were found to borrow money in order to pay for it. Despite being published in November this year, the study itself was conducted in 2016, says Dr Ir – although he notes that there is still work to be done. More than half of those borrowing to pay medical bills – 55 percent to be precise – were subjected to distress financing, whereby they either borrowed with interest or sold assets in order to cover the costs of being treated. The study claims this creates cyclical poverty, adding that 22 percent of people across 40 low- to middle-income countries borrow to pay for healthcare. The nature of the loan, along with the size of the household and its collective wealth were found as key determinants of the impact of healthcare bills in Cambodia. It noted that interest rates had become more prevalent and played a major role in the sustained cycle of poverty, particularly in rural communities.

IOM, Cambodia Launch New Project to Detect, Manage TB among Migrants on Thai-Cambodian Border - Cambodia ReliefWeb 20th Dec 2019
IOM and the Cambodian National Centre for Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control (CENAT) have launched a new collaboration to diagnose tuberculosis (TB) among Cambodian migrants returning from Thailand. The project, which is funded by the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, will provide TB screening, diagnosis, health education, and referral support to over 100,000 migrants over the next three years. The Poipet border between Thailand and Cambodia, in Cambodia’s Banteay Meachey province, is the main crossing point for Cambodian irregular migrants returned by the Thai immigration authorities. According to Poipet officials, over 70,000 were returned through the Poipet in 2017. As irregular migrants working in Thailand, many suffered from poor working and living conditions and had limited access to healthcare, making them especially vulnerable to TB. Under the new project, IOM and CENAT will collaborate to offer TB screening at the Poipet Migrant Transit Centre, through providing health education, onsite digital X-ray services, referral support for TB suspect cases to get rapid diagnosis through molecular diagnosis, and follow up to ensure that diagnosed patients get access treatment through Cambodia’s national TB programme at their final destination. Poipet currently has very limited capacity for TB diagnosis and treatment. The project, which is part of a regional Global Fund grant implemented across Greater Mekong Sub-region countries to address TB in migrants and mobile populations, will also offer services to the local community, where many people are mobile and work on both sides of the border.

ICT

UNDP launches initiative to tackle challenges Khmer Times 20th Jan 2020
The UN Development Program yesterday launched an initiative to connect Cambodia’s public service sector digitally with those in other countries to find speedier solutions to development challenges. The UNDP Accelerator Labs initiative is a new service introduced in 78 countries that works with people, governments and the private sector to work together with national and global partners to find radically new approaches that fit the complexity of current challenges.

PM seeks Japan’s help in developing blockchain tech Khmer Times 16th Jan 2020
Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday met a Japanese delegation at the Peace Palace to discuss strengthening bilateral cooperation, especially in the development of blockchain technology. In the morning, Mr Hun Sen met with the delegation headed by Kozo Yamamoto, a member of the House of Representatives and State Minister for Regional Revitalisation, and both sides discussed cooperation in several sectors, especially blockchain technology and clean water supply for Phnom Penh.

Two more telecom firms join 5G scramble Khmer Times 14th Jan 2020
Two more telecom operators in Cambodia are preparing pilot trials for the fifth generation wireless technology for digital cellular networks known as 5G. This will massively increase download times and enable Cambodia to join the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), essential to a successful future digital economy. Three main telecom operators are already piloting 5G here and aim to launch it across the country this year to align with a government target, said a senior official from the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC).

Infrastructure

End of an era as O’tres beach cleared of vendors Khmer Times 21st Jan 2020
Sihanoukville Hall yesterday reported it has dismantled all stalls on O’tres beach. Demolishing the stalls began on January 15 and to date, 156 stalls have been torn down on O’tres beach 1 and 2. The move prompted protest from vendors who depend on the location for their livelihood. Yesterday, 62 stall owners rallied in front of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s home in Phnom Penh to ask for an intervention.

Ministry: Work on National Road 3 nearly halfway done Phnom Penh Post 21st Jan 2020
The restoration of National Road 3, linking Phnom Penh and Kampot on the coast, is 45 per cent complete, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport said. The director-general of public works at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport Heng Rathpiseth told The Post that work on the road is expected to conclude in October 2022.

Ministry drafting urban solid waste management policy Phnom Penh Post 21st Jan 2020
The financial policy committee of the Ministry of Economy and Finance is drafting the “Urban Solid Waste Management 2019-2028” policy to address waste management in Phnom Penh. Once approved, it will protect public health and the environment. Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth, who is the chairman of the financial policy committee, led an inter-ministerial meeting on Tuesday to discuss the draft policy.

Battambang domestic airport revival plans mooted Khmer Times 19th Jan 2020
After the recent announcement by a joint venture between a Cambodian tycoon and Bangkok air to build an airport in Koh Kong Province, Battambang is also looking at the possibility of reviving its domestic aviation aspirations. A group of French investors and pilots have shown considerable interest in investing in restoring and upgrading the Battambang provincial airport because of the provine’s high economic potential. The news was revealed after a meeting between Mr. Nguon Ratan, Governor of Battambang Provincial Council and Mr. Emmanuel Dias, General Manager of Airaviata (AAT) Cambodia Regional Airlines Company early last week at the Provincial Hall.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Land Ministry issues new guidelines for safety of construction Khmer Times 10th Jan 2020
The Ministry of Land Management today issued new guidelines to all relevant authorities in a move to improve quality and safety of construction, following the recent building collapses in Kep and Preah Sihanouk provinces. According to a statement dated January 10, Land Management Minister Chea Sophara said under the new guidelines, the ministry strongly forbids the implementation of activities, including the ban on building, repairing, demolishing, or opening a construction of a building without permit.

France to provide $100 million for water pumping station project Khmer Times 31st Dec 2019
The French government through the Agence Francaise de Development is providing more than $100 million in additional loans for the construction of a water pumping station at the Bakheng Clean Water Treatment Plant. The loan agreement was last week signed between Finance Minister Aun Pornmoniroth, and Ophille Bourhis, AFD director to Cambodia at the ministry.

Is Cambodian infrastructure ready for real estate in 2020? Khmer Times 24th Dec 2019
The 2019 real estate market in Cambodia has been growing due to increasing demand from both local and international buyers across different property types. Will 2020 be more of the same? Industry insiders have mixed answers. Po Eav Kong, CEO of Advance Real Estate, expressed that the property sector in Cambodia will grow in 2020 with some reservations due to recent events. He explains, “2020 will be a good year for real estate. The government has doubled the approved projects and this will lead to stronger construction activity in the following years.” Though he added that, “It’s rather unfortunate that the ban on online gaming has resulted in the slowdown of the real estate market in Sihanoukville”

A Jungle Airstrip Stirs Suspicions About China’s Plans for Cambodia The New York Times 22nd Dec 2019
The airstrip stretches like a scar through what was once unspoiled Cambodian jungle. When completed next year on a remote stretch of shoreline, Dara Sakor International Airport will boast the longest runway in Cambodia, complete with the kind of tight turning bay favored by fighter jet pilots. Nearby, workers are clearing trees from a national park to make way for a port deep enough to host naval ships.The politically connected Chinese company building the airstrip and port says the facilities are for civilian use. But the scale of the land deal at Dara Sakor — which secures 20 percent of Cambodia’s coastline for 99 years — has raised eyebrows, especially since the portion of the project built so far is already moldering in malarial jungle.

Travel & Tourism

Malaysian firms keen in wastewater treatment and eco-tourism: Ambassador Khmer Times 14th Jan 2020
Malaysian firms are interested in investing in wastewater treatment and eco-tourism in the Kingdom, sectors in line with the country’s bid to boost bilateral trade and strengthen ties with the Kingdom. Malaysian Ambassador Eldeen Husaini bin Mohd Hashim to Cambodia yesterday met with Environment Minister Say Samal at the ministry to discuss strengthening relations.