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Taiwan set to open trade office

In a bid to increase trade and investment between Taiwan and Cambodia, the Taiwanese Business Center will officially open in Phnom Penh next month, the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) has announced.

Speaking to Taiwanese media on Wednesday, TAITRA chairman Wang Chih-kang said the business centre is another step towards encouraging Taiwanese businesses to invest in Cambodia and strengthen supply chains across the region.

“Establishment of relations with ASEAN members helps boost Taiwan’s chances of joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership,” he told a Taiwanese media outlet on Wednesday, referring to a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and six countries with which it has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand).

The new trade office will provide advice and data on Cambodian business, and broker new business relationships for Taiwanese firms entering the marketplace.

Nguon Meng Tech, director general of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) welcomed the news.

“I have been waiting for a long time as I had suggested to the former minister of commerce [Cham Prasidh] twice, but had no response,” he said.

“You know, [TAITRA] attracted more than $30 billion of capital flow into Vietnam last year as I was told by their official there – why we can’t have it?”

Data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia shows that from 1994 to 2012, Taiwan invested $935 million into the country, through major investment areas such as garment making.

Cambodia imported more than $700 million worth of Taiwanese goods in 2013, largely comprising automobile parts, bicycles, agriculture machines, medical equipment and construction hardware, according to the council’s data.

However Tech believes with the new trade office, that figure could increase tenfold. “It could inject $10 billion into the Kingdom’s economy every year,” Tech said.

Last year Lin Zhi Long, president of the Taiwan Commercial Association of Cambodia (TCAC) estimated that Taiwanese firms made up a quarter of the country’s entire garment sector.

Long said that more than 3,000 Taiwanese firms were operating in Cambodia as at June 21, 2013.

Ken Loo, secretary general of the Garment Manufacturers Association of Cambodia was optimistic that the new trade centre would further enhance Taiwan’s interest in Cambodia’s garment sector.

“It will help to attract more Taiwanese investment to Cambodia,” he said.

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