Kazuya Urata, CEO of Urata SE (Cambodia), sits down with Khmer Times’s Chea Vannak to discuss the company’s operations and expansion plans in the kingdom.
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KT: When did you start operations in Cambodia?
Mr Urata: We established Urata SE here in 2015, specialising in human resources for the construction sector. Now we have another company, WTC management, which represents investors in the construction sector.
The local construction market is booming, which, of course, is attracting many companies from China and many other countries.
KT: Since the company’s inception in 2015, how has the sector evolved in terms of business activity and investment?
Mr Urata: During these years, the economy has grown at break-neck velocity, which, of course, has lured many investors into the country. The kingdom’s economic growth continues to be impressive and the investment climate is very attractive.
Khmer Times: As a foreign investor, how is doing business in Cambodia? What are the major obstacles and challenges that the government should be focusing on?
Mr Urata: Many investors and enterprises have their sights set on Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia. They believe they are similar markets, with all of them experiencing incredible economic growth. I, personally, chose to put my money in the kingdom because of the country’s impressive economic growth, despite having a small population compared to Myanmar and Thailand.
Cambodia is a dollarised economy which makes it a lot easier for investors. In addition, Cambodians are very hard workers. I believe these are the two most important factors in the minds of Japanese investors.
When it comes to taxing, I believe there is still a lot of room for improvement, however. Despite all the recent changes, I believe the government still needs to reform key aspects of its tax code and tax collection mechanism.
KT: It seems that interest in Cambodia for Japanese companies has peeked in the last few years, particularly after the company Minibea and the shopping mall Aeon started operations in the country. Why is that?
Mr Urata: I think it has a lot to do with tourism. As you know there is now a direct ANA flight connecting Cambodia and Japan which has helped multiply the number of Japanese visitors. As the number of Japanese visiting the country increases, more and more Japanese investors start thinking about putting their money here.
KT: The high cost of electricity and transportation continues to be one of the biggest hurdles to doing business in Cambodia, as reported by the majority of investors. Do you agree with this?
Mr Urata: I believe that the price of electricity is currently decreasing, so I don’t think this will continue to be an issue in the future. The cost of logistics, however, worries me a lot more. The government really needs to focus on improving transportation in the kingdom. This is key for the country to continue to grow at the impressive rates we’ve seen in recent years.
KT: Are you concerned about the upcoming general elections in July?
Mr Urata: I am not worried at all. This is a normal thing. Every country has elections, and Cambodia is no different.
KT: In terms of expanding your business, what are your plans in the near future?
Mr Urata: I first came here to up the standards in the construction sector. I wanted to bring in the latest materials and technologies available. I still very much have that mindset. I don’t worry so much about turning huge profits or expanding. What I worry about is helping the local construction market develop and come into line with more advance markets like Japan. So, in the near future, my plan is to help the construction sector develop further and achieve regional (or international) standards in terms of materials, equipment, building techniques and safety.