The Cambodia- Japan Association for Business and Investment (CJBI) has sharpened its vision to focus on promoting Cambodia-Japan business partnership, with a particular focus on SMEs, in order to enhance economic relations between Cambodia and Japan.
CJBI is the only association in Cambodia which consists of Japanese and Cambodian members and it aims to encourage business-matching between Cambodian and Japanese SMEs, as well as boost the number of joint ventures between Cambodian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and their Japanese counterparts.
Onishi Yoshifumi, JICA chief adviser to the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Centre (CJCC), said that big Japanese companies can do business overseas on their own, but Japanese SMEs cannot come here without assistance. Now, the Japanese government is also assisting and accelerating the Japanese SMEs to come from outside, not just in Cambodia.
“Japanese companies have the option to go to either Vietnam, Thailand, India or China, but Cambodia is one of the options. If both Japanese and Cambodians work together, the CJBI will find the support. Both can invest in each other’s country and trade with one another. A joint venture is one of the options and the establishment of a trading relationship is another,” Onishi said.
“Cambodia has potential and we would like Cambodian companies to be chosen in the same way that we hope Cambodian companies choose Japanese companies. This is also important in a bilateral relationship,” he added. Onishi said that Japanese SMEs would naturally like to be in a win-win relationship. He added they (Japanese SMEs) want to join with the locals. The Japanese characteristic is that once they come, they want to grow together, think together, survive together and enjoy together. CJBI Chairman Mey Kalyan, said Japan is important to our country. As such, we must maintain the cooperation and make development progress. He added that the principle of development for Japan is focusing on human resources, infrastructure and economic development.
Japan likes working as group with high and clear responsibility, community idea, and culture of shame in the society. Japan want to make themselves number one or perfect expanding to foreign country. He adds that with the Cambodia- Japan Cooperation Centre (CJCC), the language, culture, tradition and the working habit of Japan can be promoted. Therefore, local business people are aware of how Japanese businesses operate and work. “Japan is advanced because of the small enterprises. They want the perfection and adherent culture of shame. In terms of business perspective, Japan always thinks about fairness. Japanese investors want to prosper and develop together,” Mr Kalyan says.
Mr Kalyan adds that CJBI, is small. However, they have the Cambodia-Japan Cooperation Centre (CJCC), the base to promote the language, culture, tradition and the working habits of Japan. Therefore, CJBI and CJCC can link together.
“Japanese SMEs have long years of experiences, and most of the Japanese SMEs owner are elderly. They do not know much language but they know how to work, so we should join venture with them. Some SMEs start with their own business, while some open the market and company and supply in local production, but we want to marry them with the local SMEs. In some way, Japanese companies can bring know how to technology that we require to push our SMEs.”
Mey said, “By 2020, we want to have at least two or three Cambodian SMEs and Japanese SMEs to create ventures per year. We will focus mainly on the agro-processing sector and technology investment.” Mey added that the CJBI is an essential platform to bringing Cambodian and Japanese investors together and also to provide training to local SMEs which are at par with Japanese standards regarding management, accounting, taxes, culture and to exchange experiences and provide an open, pro-active forum, to provide important information to local and Japanese investors. Mey added that so far, CJBI has 44 members, including 36 Cambodian and eight Japanese members. The move also aligns Cambodian and Japanese government policies, said Mr Kalyan.
He said that at present, the Japanese government is also directing its SMEs to foreign countries while Cambodia is also pushing its local SMEs to partner with foreign investors.
Partnering with Japanese firms enables local entrepreneurs to process raw materials into more valuable products, said Miyao Masahiro, chief representative of the Phnom Penh Office of the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro). Selling milled rice directly to a buyer abroad is not as lucrative as exporting rice crackers, which sell for much more. “It is good to work with Japanese manufacturers who know about quality and safety standards and can help locals increase the value of Cambodian agriculture products.
This is a good example of what we want to do,” Mr Miyao said.Taking advantage of the skills and know-how of Japanese manufacturers will be beneficial for everyone, particularly Cambodian SMEs and farmers, he added, noting that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of most emerging economies. Cambodia is no exception. Out of 510,000 enterprises, 40 percent are involved in commercial (retail) trade, 30 percent are industry- and manufacturing-based (mostly food and beverages), 22 percent are in agriculture and eight percent are involved in services and other areas.
As for micro SMEs, 83 to 86 percent of 150,000 businesses are involved in handicraft and micro trades, nine percent or 20,000 enterprises are small and medium manufacturing and less than one percent (2,000 registered factories) are medium-sized manufacturers, Mr Kalyan said.