Cambodia and Malaysia took strides yesterday to enhance bilateral trade and investment, holding a business forum in Phnom Penh and inking a cooperation agreement aimed cementing existing ties – and forging new ones.
At a business seminar attended by government and private sector representatives from both countries, the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), Malaysia’s national trade promotion agency. The agreement covers areas of cooperation, such as information exchange, trade promotion activities, business missions, experience sharing, and capacity building between the two countries.
CCC president Kith Meng said both sides have agreed to work together to support their business communities for mutual benefit, and would benefit from business seminars and networking events.
“This is an opportune time to renew contracts and discuss problems of mutual interest toward enhanced cooperation and to explore potential business partners,” he said at the opening of the event’s business matchmaking session.
Citing government figures, Meng said bilateral trade between Cambodia and Malaysia topped $388 million last year, with Cambodian exports amounting to $152.6 million while imports totalled $235.4 million.
Malaysia is one of the top investors in Cambodia, and a cornerstone investor in its financial sector, he said, adding that Malaysia provided $608 million in FDI to Cambodia in 2014.
“I would like to encourage Malaysian investors to invest more in Cambodia as a production base to export your products throughout the region and to worldwide markets,” Meng said, adding that products manufactured in Cambodia benefit from duty-free access to the EU, US, Canadian and Chinese markets.
Dzulkifli Mahmud, CEO of MATRADE, said the MoU would pave the way for more investment and Malaysian companies were already looking into a number of sectors.
“There is a potential market for us, and we are looking into garments, banking, construction, logistics and other services,” he said.
Mustapa Mohamed, Malaysia’s Minister of International Trade and Industry, said one of the biggest opportunities for expanding trade and investment was in the halal business segment. He said Muslim-majority Malaysia was a major producer of halal food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, and companies were seeking new markets for their products.
Mohamed said both countries are working to build linkages between their microenterprises (MSMEs). In Malaysia, these tiny businesses represent 77 per cent of all business enterprises, while in Cambodia they account for over 98 per cent, he noted.
Hun Lak, managing director of agricultural company Mekong Oryza Trading, who attended the MoU signing, said Cambodia’s prospect as an investment destination was continually improving.
“As result of our political and economic stability, and the convenience of administrative procedures, we are able to attract investors to Cambodia,” he said. “And we still have a lot of areas for potential investment.”