Prime Minister Hun Sen and his South Korean counterpart, President Moon Jae-in, on Friday agreed to work together to boost trade and investment between the two nations.
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On Saturday, Mr Moon left Cambodia after a three-day state visit during which he also led a delegation of South Korean businesspeople.
During his visit, Mr Moon said the relationship between the two countries is strengthening and that Cambodia is an attractive investment destination for South Korean firms.
Speaking at the Cambodia-Korea Business Summit, held at Phnom Penh’s Peace Palace on Friday, Mr Moon said Cambodia and South Korea have become important economic partners and highlighted that last year bilateral trade reached nearly $1 billion and that South Korea is Cambodia’s second largest investor.
Mr Moon said more than 300 South Korean firms are doing business here, providing thousands of jobs to Cambodians.
“Cambodia is attracting larger amounts of foreign direct investment and it will be one of the most important markets for infrastructure projects in Asia in the next 10 years. Korean companies are increasingly expanding their investments and operations here,” he said.
“We hope the memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed today will boost bilateral investment.”
Speaking at the same event, Mr Hun Sen said Mr Moon’s visit will give South Korean companies an opportunity to learn about Cambodia’s investment and business environment.
“Today’s forum allows us to share information regarding the latest developments in Cambodia with regards to investment and business opportunities, and will help companies know more about recent policies in Cambodia to improve the business and investment climates,” the premier said.
“With our countries enjoying close relations, I would like to ask the Korean private sector to consider our country for their operations and to explore opportunities here,” he said.
Mr Hun Sen explained that trade ties between Cambodia and South Korea have been strengthened with the Investors Protection Agreement, signed in 1997, and a recent MoU signed between the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) on investment facilitation cooperation.
“The Cambodian government has recently launched a campaign of internal reforms aimed at reducing operating costs for businesses, a sign that the government views the private sector as an important engine of economic growth and a partner in the country’s development.”
He said the government has set up a public-private sector forum to give a voice to businesspeople so that they can communicate their concerns.
“On behalf of the government of Cambodia, I once again would like to ensure investors that in Cambodia you will enjoy a good investment and business climate with peace, security, and political stability, as well as macroeconomic stability, accountability, efficiency, and transparency,” he said.
Kith Meng, president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), said during the forum’s opening ceremony that the event represents a great opportunity for business leaders to meet, exchange information and experiences, and seek partnerships.
“President Moon Jae-in’s visit today is an important landmark in the promotion of trade between the two nations and it is a very positive sign for South Korean businessmen thinking of investing or expanding their operations here,” he said.
“In light of recent developments at the international level, including the trade war between the US and China, and of Korea’s new policy in Southeast Asia, I would like to encourage Koreans to come do business in Cambodia,” he said.
South Korea ranks second in FDI flowing into the Kingdom. From 1994 to 2018, the Cambodian government approved 212 investment projects from South Korea worth a combined $4.56 billion.
Bilateral trade rose by 11 percent last year, while 300,000 South Korean tourists visited the Kingdom, according to Mr Meng.
From 1996 to 2018, the South Korean government invested about $632 million in development cooperation in Cambodia, with around $300 million disbursed through grants. From 2019 to 2023, South Korea plans to provide an additional $200 million in concessional loans.