The Prime Minister’s Monday announcement of the government’s plan to purchase COVID-19 vaccine doses for the Kingdom’s citizens was welcomed by people across the nation. For business people and investors, though, it was not only welcome news, but it also had the immediate effect of boosting confidence among them on the prospect of economic recovery in the Kingdom.
Mr Hun Sen’s announcement said that he had ordered the Health and Finance ministries to allocate money for the purchase of one million COVID-19 vaccine doses. He added that he had also advised that the Minister of Health discuss with the World Health Organization, from where vaccine supplies should be sourced.
“I also advised [that] the Minister of Finance allocate budget for the first purchase of one million doses, [which will] be given to those working in high-risk areas. One million doses [is sufficient] for 500,000 people (because one person needs two vaccinations),” the prime minister said.
Lim Heng, Vice-President of Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said that business people and investors across the world have been waiting for the vaccine, [because once] available to all, [that] will be a good [indicator] for the recovery of the [global] economy. “The news of the various vaccine developments [has boosted] confidence among investors [enough to spur them] to prepare [their post-COVID-19] business and investment plans,” Heng added. He said that while the country [is still in] pandemic [mode], the Council for the Development of Cambodia has [been] approving general investment projects monthly.
Anthony Galliano, the newly elected president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (AmCham), said that investors should be substantially comforted that the government has set COVID-19 containment and management as the highest of priorities, with a unified response throughout the ranks and a compliant populace.
“The economic risks are being managed to mitigate the impact and are balanced with the health and safety of the people. This government’s management and performance can only spark investor confidence and, in my opinion, will result in increased investor confidence and investment,” said Galliano.
“With several vaccines on the horizon, global economies are set to rebound mid-2021, especially in the United States and Europe, where the economic impact has been severe,” he said, adding there will be a spike in global trade as economies revive and this will result in positive traction for the Kingdom’s manufacturing sectors, especially garments. “Given that Cambodia was viewed as one of the more attractive investment destinations in Asean, the Kingdom should benefit from renewed foreign direct investment interest, especially as the nation’s infrastructure has greatly improved, labour remains inexpensive and plentiful and the advances in the ease of doing business.”
He added that tourism may take much longer to rebound and will only likely progress in gaining traction, depending on the state of the airline industry and the still-to-be determined health and safety protocols that will be enforced.
It [the vaccine] is the new context, and we are glad to hear that news, said Thourn Sinan, chairman of the Pacific Asia Tourism Association Cambodia Chapter (PATACC). He added that Cambodia will not only heal its COVID-19 wounds, but it will rehabilitate the economy in all sectors, especially among investors and business people. More investors will come to Cambodia in larger numbers than before. For me, it [the vaccine] is happy news, but what I am concerned about is that we lack enough professionals for the tourism sector to rebound, because many have changed jobs. Although a vaccine will soon be available here, this is just the start of the recovery and to expect a return to the number of tourists that visited in 2019 is just not feasible for the next two years. We will need at least five years,” he added. Song Saran, the CEO/president of Amru Rice, also welcomed the news. “As business people, we are confident that soon we will be able to travel and communicate in person in order to expand our businesses,” he added. He anticipates that business travel will return to more traditionalvolumes in the second quarter of 2021.