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Bank of China launch

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Finance Minister Keat Chhon prepares to cut a ribbon during the opening ceremony of the Bank of China on Saturday in Phnom Penh. Photo by: Heng Chivoan

BANK of China officially opened its first Cambodia-based branch on Saturday, a move that officials said would assist in the  support of large-scale Chinese investments in the Kingdom.

At the opening held at Sofitel Hotel, which was attended by 300 local and Chinese businessmen, officials highlighted the benefits of the opening for the Kingdom.

“It will provide advantages and positive inputs to Cambodia to boost its banking industry and help the economy grow,” said Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon.

He also called for BoC to help develop the country’s agriculture sector, which he said was “one of the four pillars supporting the country’s economic growth”.

Bank of China is among the four largest banks in China, with total assets over US$1.7 trillion and a presence in 31 countries around the world.

National Bank of Cambodia Governor Chea Chanto said the bank’s presence reflected the confidence of Chinese investors in Cambodian market, as well as progress in the banking industry.

“It will bring new technology and innovative banking products to develop Cambodian banking industry,” he said.

Chea Chanto highlighted growth in the domestic banking industry, as total deposits in 2010 reached US$4.16 billion while the amount of loans increased 26.7 percent to $3.18 billion.

Meanwhile, he said the nonperforming loan rate dropped to 3 percent as of the end of last month.

Of the 14.3 million people living in Cambodia, 1.35 million have used its banking system, he said.

BoC Executive Vice President Yue Yi stressed the importance of economic cooperation between Cambodia and China at the press conference.

“It is in line with the policy of China to help develop Cambodia’s economy,” he said.

He said BoC would finance initiatives such as infrastructure projects, hydropower dams, agriculture and special economic zones, as well as serve as a settlement, clearance and remittance center for the Chinese yuan. The BoC will also play an active role in Cambodia’s planned stock market, he said.

Cheng Chang Jiang, Bank of China Phnom Penh CEO, said Cambodia’s financial market is relatively small at the moment but has lots of room to expand.  

ACLEDA Bank President In Channy downplayed competition concerns, and highlighted the new sources of capital, technology, and experience the Bank of China brought to the Kingdom.

“I think that it’s not competition for us because we’re focusing exclusively on financing small, medium and large businesses. They target large financing projects such as hydropower and infrastructure,” he said.

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