Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday called for investors in ACMECS member countries to consider business opportunities in Cambodia, where, he says, the government has undertaken key reforms to improve the business climate.
The premier was speaking at the ACMECS CEO Forum, which was held in Bangkok on Friday, a day before the 9th Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) Summit, which Mr Hun Sen also attended.
ACMECS (Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy) is a political, economic, and cultural organisation among Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar. It was established in 2003 to bridge the economic gap among its members and promote prosperity in the sub-region.
Mr Hun Sen said Cambodia has been promoting trade facilitation through the simplification and automation of customs procedures at international border gates and ports, including the establishment of a single-window system, to facilitate import-export procedures.
The government has also charted a master plan for logistics, which includes renovating and expanding Sihanoukville’s deep-seaport and building an expressway to connect it to the capital, a project that is being developed through a public-private partnership and will soon be completed, he said.
“At the same time, we are working on a SMEs Fund and an Entrepreneurship Development Fund to aid the development of the SME sector, which is a powerful engine of growth for the country,” he said.
The premier also said that the government is ramping up efforts to adapt the country’s economy to the digital age.
“Like other countries in the region, Cambodia is increasing investment in building an ecosystem for sustained growth in the digital economy, including the development of relevant institutions, infrastructure and human resources in the ICT sector,” he said.
“We would like to invite investors in the region to explore business opportunities in Cambodia, and to take advantage of our efforts to reform our economy, improve trade procedures and investment policies, and development physical and soft infrastructure to improve the investment climate,” Mr Hun Sen said.
He said the government is also considering the possibility of gradually reducing the price of electricity starting in 2019, explaining that the high cost of energy in the Kingdom continues to be one of the biggest hurdles to attracting foreign investment.
Chanitr Charnchainarong, chairman of the Thai-Cambodian Business Council, met with the Cambodian Minister of Commerce, Pan Sorasak, on the sidelines of the summit and discussed ways of boosting trade and investment in key areas of the Cambodian economy, including agriculture, manufacturing and trade.
“Thai companies are going to invest more in the Banteay Meanchey Special Economic Zone. We need to increase cooperation in cross-border trading, especially through the border in Pailin,” Mr Charnchainarong said.
According to Mr Hun Sen, trade between Cambodia and Thailand increased from $5.6 billion in 2016 to $6.1 billion last year. Both sides have agreed to cooperate to boost trade to $15 billion by 2020.