US investments in Cambodia increased 15-fold last year, due mainly to the construction of a new Coca-Cola plant in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone, according to a statement from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).
The CDC said US injections of capital into Cambodia ballooned from about $7.5 million in 2015 to almost $122 million in 2016.
CDC secretary-general Sok Chenda Sophea told a US-Asean Business Council delegation that Coca-Cola had invested $100 million in the economic zone through its new factory, which opened in December.
The delegation was on a two-day visit to the kingdom to look into more business opportunities for US corporations.
Mr. Chenda Sophea said Cambodia’s private sector was an engine of growth for the nation and that the government had released a plan, called the Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025, that was intended to help the country respond to regional and global economic changes during Asean integration through increases in foreign direct investment (FDI).
“In this sense, I would like to encourage American investors which have business activity in Asean to consider starting business or investing in Cambodia to connect the production to other Asean member states,” he said.
Commerce Ministry spokeswoman Soeng Sophary told Khmer Times yesterday that the increase in investment from the US was due to the Industrial Development Policy, which she said provided more support for investors and built trust with them.
She added that the US has an American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) office in Cambodia and had organized the Cambodia International Business Summit in 2017.
“The investment from the US is increasing year-on-year since they learned that the demand for [the] Asean Economic Community will grow and is in need of supply. So this could push the investment from other countries, as well as America, to Cambodia,” she said.
Last July, the US asked Cambodia to accelerate final negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty to pave the way for more American investment funds in the kingdom.
US Ambassador William Heidt previously said the US was trying hard to link American firms with the Cambodian government in order to attract investment.
“We are spending a lot of time with American companies and letting them know about Cambodia in order to attract them here,” Mr. Heidt said.
During American Restaurant Week last year, Mr. Heidt said there were about 100 US-owned restaurants operating in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap.
“Though there are few US-owned businesses in Cambodia, trade, however, between the US and Cambodia is rising. And so is Cambodia’s exports to the United States, especially in garments and footwear,” the ambassador said.
“The challenge, however, is to diversity by bringing in more investment in different sectors so that Cambodia’s exports to the United States can be more diverse.”
Ms. Sophary said that having the investment treaty between the two countries will build confidence in US investors.
Cambodia’s total exports to the US declined last year compared with 2015, due to what the government says were uncertainties related to the US presidential race and rising exports from Vietnam as well as Myanmar.
According to figures from the Office of the US Trade Representative, total exports from Cambodia to the US were more than $2.8 billion last year compared with more than $3 billion in 2015 – a decline of about seven percent.
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