Cambodia has asked US companies to compete in tenders for infrastructure projects, to improve development in a field currently devoid of US investment, where the vast majority of bidders and builders are Chinese firms.
Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol made the plea on October 20 at a virtual meeting with US-ASEAN Business Council senior vice-president Michael W Michalak and representatives from 13 companies.
Even as the Kingdom revamps, expands and rebuilds a large number of roads, bridges and other infrastructure, the minister highlighted the absence of US firms from recent investment projects and bidding processes, even those involving National Road 4 which was built by the US in the Sangkum Period before the civil war.
He said the private sector’s participation, especially of US companies, would be vital to ensuring that roads are of high-quality and up to recognised standards.
Chanthol listed a number of major ongoing infrastructure projects, including the reconstruction and widening of National Road 7 (Skun-Kampong Cham), a bridge across the Mekong River in Kratie province, the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh-Bavet expressways, the 34-road project in Preah Sihanouk province and the 38-road project in Siem Reap province.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, champions US involvement, which he says would make the Kingdom’s infrastructure stronger and more resilient. He argued that the US tends to deliver top-notch results.
He too observed that the US is notably absent from recent infrastructure projects in Cambodia, telling The Post on October 21: “As more [US] companies enter the bidding process and construction, quality will increase in tandem.”
However, he acknowledged that Cambodia’s geographical remoteness from North America and relatively low returns on investment could be keeping US firms from the infrastructure financing scene.