Sunday, September 27, 2009
Gen. Chhum Socheat, spokesman of National Defense said that more than 2,000 military men are reserved for the first-ever event in the country and they will come from more than 20 countries, of which 1,500 will be from the United States.
The military exercise which is to be supported by the United States under a program titled "Global Peace Operations Initiative or GPOI" will take place in June or July next year.
According to the plan, the military exercise will be conducted in Phnom Penh and in Phnom Sruoch district in Kompong Speu province, about 90 kilometers from the capital, the officials added.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh issued a statement saying during a four-day visit to Washington D.C. , Tea Banh, Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense had met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and discussed security cooperation between the United States and Cambodia.
During the meeting, they also highlighted Cambodia's ongoing support for international peacekeeping operations and Cambodia's commitment to hosting the 2010 Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI) regional capstone exercise.
GPOI is a U.S.-funded G-8 program to expand global capacity to train and equip 75,000 peacekeepers by the year 2010, the statement said.
Peace Operations Initiative was established after the 2004 G8 Sea Island Summit to address growing gaps in international peace operations. The goals of GPOI expand upon the goals of the Sea Island Action Plan. GPOI built policy based on previous peace operations capacity-building programs.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
FRIDAY, 25 SEPTEMBER 2009 15:01 STEVE FINCH
It was difficult to convince the Tokyo top management [to invest in Cambodia]....
Cambodia is between Vietnam and Thailand.… We [already] have big business between Vietnam and Cambodia, and between Thailand and Cambodia.
Actually, we import … and sell here, but this country has big potential due to economic progress and stable politics, and most Cambodian people … are young.
According to economic growth, people’s eating habits, [their] lifestyle should change – such as KFC. It has already changed.
So, if we make the decision to invest in Cambodia … we see [the potential for] a suitable factory. Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone has [the necessary] infrastructure and … incentives.
So what incentives has Ajinomoto received to set up at the PPSEZ?
The maximum nine-year tax holiday. And construction materials, free import tax and free VAT – this is on construction, on investment such as machines or steel structures, things like this.
Ajinomoto has already invested heavily in neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam. How do the tax incentives for foreign investors here compare to the Kingdom’s ASEAN neighbours?
I don’t exactly know [the details of incentives] in Thailand and Vietnam, but the Cambodian government supports [us] – especially the CDC [Council for the Development of Cambodia]….
It’s very attractive support – [there is a] one-stop service from the CDC.
Before coming here … [Ajinomoto thought that] Cambodia was very complicated, that there was a lot of under-the-table money, something like that. We were a bit concerned.
But actually when we came here, it was very supportive. The top of the government was very supportive. For example, tax is a very complicated issue, but the top made it very clear … step-by-step.
But the next position [down in the hierarchy] doesn’t understand that policy or rule.… Their thinking method is very old-fashioned.
You mentioned that Cambodia has a reputation for corruption when it comes to foreign investment. Have you seen it at the lower levels of government here?
Yes, before. But actually, in Japan, if you’re talking about our Tokyo headquarters – my boss or our top management in Tokyo – if you ask them, “Cambodia, what do you think of Cambodia”...?
It was difficult to convince the Tokyo top management [to invest in Cambodia]; it took a long time.
But they came here to see the market and to meet the authorities. They found it easy to understand and then dramatically changed their minds.
But are Cambodian officials at the lower level still asking your company for bribes?
Yes, they still are. This kind of experience in most developing countries is a very common issue....
This still exists, but generally if a foreign company invests in Cambodia, they needn’t be afraid of such things as country risk, collapse, no system....
I clearly say there is no need to be afraid [of Cambodia].
Ajinomoto has plans for a packing factory in the PPSEZ that will import raw materials. Are there also plans to begin manufacturing in Cambodia?
According to our plan, we will start from June next year … start test production in June.
It means this company will combine with a new company. Sales activities from the new company will start from September 2010.
Ajinomoto … will import [raw materials] from Thailand or import from Vietnam, or import from other countries.
We are now studying the most suitable supply chain, which country is the most suitable. Anyway, we import from other countries … in bulk, and we will pack for the first stage.
And the second stage, we will make these products [Nishimura displays a sachet of processed food produced by Ajinomoto]…. It will be mixed here and packed here – for the second stage.
Cambodia has routinely been unable to produce the necessary raw materials for its own industries. To what extent is that putting off multinational companies from investing here?
[One factor] is the exchange rate … and another is AFTA, the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement.
Actually, import tax may be [abolished] in 2015, according to the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement.
In 2015, among the ASEAN countries, there will be free trade – it means import tax is zero.
Still, I hear from the Cambodian authorities … [regarding] Cambodian tax, 19 percent comes from import tax and VAT.
So it means that if Cambodia has no import tax, it will cut [the country’s revenue].
But for the next few years it will directly affect our business.
Research by the UN Development Programme, among others, has shown that Cambodian productivity in the work place and vocational skills are a long way behind the likes of Vietnam and Thailand. Does this concern multinationals like you when you are deciding whether to invest here?
Vietnam 10 years ago was similar to Cambodia and was doing very well, so 10 years later we can catch up with Vietnam’s current level.
So, over time … Cambodia’s level [of labour skills] is becoming higher.
There is a lack of marketing data here to help companies like Ajinomoto identify who its likely customers are and how many of them are in Cambodia. How have you been able to say for certain that you want to enter Cambodia and that you have a potential market here?
We have done market research … by myself, and we have a marketing research company. We have data.
If you compare it to Thailand, with the data quality there is a very big difference, but our products are very basic, such as MSG.
Every Cambodian person eats MSG … so we are at the very basic stage.
If we create a higher-level product, maybe we would need more information, but in the current situation it is enough.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
According the press release from the National Institute of Statistic, Ministry of Planning that the 2008 Cambodia Population Census has been releasedyesterday (September 07, 2009) by the Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Chaktomuk Conference Hall.
The new census final results revealed that Cambodia population has increased from 11.4 million in 1998 to 13.4 million in 2008. The population density increase from 64 to 75 persons per square kilometer and the annual growth rate declined from 2.49% in 1998 to 1.54% in 2008. The number of literacy population aged 7 and more has spectacularly increased from 62.8% in 1998 to 78.35% in 2008. The adult literacy rate has shown fairly good increase to 77.59% in 2008. The number of children aged 6 and more attending school or educational institution have increased from 36.27% in 1998 to 2008 but the proportion of females attending school continue to be less than the corresponding proportion for males both in the urban and rural area.
Posted: 07 September 2009
PHNOM PENH: Cambodia is open for business, despite global economic uncertainty and a negative growth forecast. For foreign investors in the country, the downturn could be a moment of opportunity.
Cambodia has not been spared by the economic crisis - exports have dropped by 23 per cent and the construction industry has slowed almost to a standstill. But it will take another quarter to determine any negative long-term economic effects.
The country's Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh is confident that demand will pick up again, especially in the hard-hit garment sector. He explained why the country is a perfect springboard to foreign markets.
"Cambodia is a less developed country. We enjoy market preferences larger than our neighbouring countries which are developing countries. It means that products that you can produce in Cambodia go to Europe duty free and quota free," he said.
Fund manager Doug Clayton dispels some common misperceptions regarding investing in Cambodia.
He said: "Many investors think Cambodia's an unstable place, but personally I think it's one of the most stable countries in Southeast Asia because it has had the same government for over two decades and is unlikely to change over the next ten years."
A 15 per cent corporate tax rate and various government incentives have made CEOs like Johnny Ong of Singapore's HLH confident of its success. The company is expected to put US$40 million into its corn agribusiness over the next few years.
HLH said it can import expensive farm equipment and seed stock from abroad tax free. Local labour is easily available and there is plenty of land to lease – 7 million hectares over the whole country.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
PHNOM PENH, Sept 4 - Cambodia has signed an $80 million deal with China National Heavy Machinery Co to build a power transmission network in areas around the capital where factories have mushroomed in the past decade, a power official said on Friday.
Keo Rattanak, director general of Cambodia's Electricite du Cambodge, said the project, which would start next year and take three years to complete, was part of government efforts to address complaints by foreign investors.
The loop line transmission network will bring in electricity from various sources, including hydropower plants built by China in the northwest and southwest provinces, as well as a $160 million, Malaysian-funded coal-fired power plant in the south, he said.
In response, the government wants to attract $3 billion of foreign investment to build six hydropower plants and a coal power plant by 2018.