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Canadian firms surveyed

In a new report issued by the Canada-ASEAN Business Council indicates Cambodia’s greatest difficulty in expanding Canadian investment is the lack of skilled labour – a familiar constraint echoed by numerous international business chambers.

The second Canada-ASEAN Business Outlook survey, which combines research from regional Canadian chambers of commerce, found Canadian businesses to be broadly optimistic of ASEAN’s market potential, with nearly two-thirds of those surveyed indicating that they would like to further deepen investment in the region.

However, of countries in the Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) region, the Kingdom ranked the second-lowest in terms of interest behind Laos, gaining only a 25 percent appetite from the regional survey. Vietnam took the top spot at 49 percent – the highest of all ASEAN countries – with Thailand at 47 percent and Myanmar at 39 percent.

“[The] biggest barrier to expanding business in Cambodia is the low level of capability in the local workforce,” the report read, noting that the ability to find higher-level workers is “extremely difficult”.

Corruption was the next biggest concern, according to the report.

David Marshall, chairman of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia, said yesterday that while Cambodia has not yet attracted many Canadian businesses, early comers that have invested heavily in developing human resource capabilities here have started to reap the benefits.

“Companies like Manulife that have invested in the country, have helped build and develop an industry,” he said.

Marshall said the financial sector has successfully garnered Canadian interest, adding that the National Bank of Canada’s acquisition of Cambodian commercial bank Advanced Bank of Asia Ltd (ABA Bank) earlier this year showed confidence in the Kingdom.

“I believe that there is a lot of promise in Canadian investment into financial services and human resource development,” he said.

Addressing the survey’s comments on Cambodia’s education system and lack of properly trained workers, he said Canada has a firm commitment to partner with local universities to help train workers to better prepare the country for investment.

“Canada and its education system is trying to incorporate curriculums into universities to fill that knowledge gap,” he said.

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