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Government looks at easing investment procedures

Sorn Sarath / Khmer Times Share:
The entrance of the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone, a premier export processing zone in Cambodia. KT/Pann Rachana

The Cambodian government is working hard at becoming more  flexible to attract foreign  investments and boost external trade to keep pace with the ever changing  global trading environment.

A Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) spokesman, Meas Soksensan, said that in the time of the global virus pandemic, compounded by the on-going trade war between the world’s two major trading power houses, Cambodia needs to be flexible as to how it manoeuvres itself under these difficult situation.

“We already have the policies to support business, trade and investments but what we need to do now is to make them less rigid to match global trends and take advantages which may present itself  during the trade tensions between China and the US,” he said.

He added that some countries in Southeast Asia enjoy the benefits from the conflict and Cambodia is also among those in the region which could take advantage of the spill over effects such as capitalising on industries which are relocating away from China.

“Definitely we can take advantage as production facilities are moving away from China to Southeast Asia. We will provide more incentives to grasp this advantage and to enable this, we need to overcome some of our existing weaknesses. In addition, having more free trade agreements on a bilateral basis is critical factor to access more markets,” he said.

The MEF has been preparing the five-year development plan (2020-2025) for the garment and textile industry, aimed at  providing a cohesive  roadmap to set out a vision to transform the sector into a high-value, supportive and diversified industry.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said during the US-Asean Business Council meeting via video conference last month that the government is sharpening measures to solve problems faced by investors and business people. He said that the reforms are  to boost the competitiveness of the Kingdom and to provide added convenience in creating a favourable business environment in investing and doing business in Cambodia.

Hong Vannak, a business researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said the government is showing a firm commitment to mobilise more foreign investors as the country has partially lost the EU’s trade preference, EbA.

Vannak added even though the country’s new investment law is progressing rather slowly,  the government appears to be using  separate mechanisms to address these issues  .

“In general, the government has established Special Economic Zones to facilitate foreign investments. So these have and will become the gateway, which comes complete with a one stop window service for foreign investors to put their investments here. This, will lead to reduced bureaucracy, thus easing of doing business as well,” he said.

Vannak said that Cambodia’s trade and investment policies would progress much better  from 2013 when the country receives additional  support related to macro economy management, economic diversification as well as  law and tax management from the EU.

Anthony Galliano, group chief executive officer of corporate finance firm Cambodia Investment Management, said, over the past seven years, one has to applaud the upgrades achieved. In times of financial hardship, businesses are just seeking incentives to help them survive, and not additional hardships.

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