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Hun Sen boosts Singapore ties

PRIME Minister Hun Sen returned from a three day diplomatic mission to Singapore yesterday that reportedly dealt with economic ties.

Speaking at Phnom Penh International Airport yesterday afternoon, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong said bilateral meetings headed by Hun Sen and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had focused on economic cooperation between the two countries.

He said Hun Sen had invited Singaporean investors to visit the Kingdom to explore business opportunities, particularly in the agriculture sector.

“Singaporean investors promised to study investment opportunities soon,” and highlighted the Kingdom’s rice industry as an area of interest, Hor Namhong said.

The prime minister highlighted Cambodia’s new sub-decree – passed earlier this month – allowing foreigners to own up to 70 percent of a building above the ground floor, in a televised speech Monday.

The number of tourists arriving from Singapore is on an upswing, Cambodia’s Foreign Minister said yesterday.

Singaporean-based carrier Silk Air had pledged to expand its flights to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, he said.

Kith Meng, president of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, said that tourism and investment opportunities had been hot topics of discussion during Hun Sen’s mission to the city-state.

“We focused on tourism and investment and to strengthen and promote [ties within] the ASEAN group,” he said.

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Singapore declined more than 26 percent to $70.748 million in the first half of the year, compared to the same period of 2009, figures obtained yesterday from the Ministry of Commerce’s Camcontrol department showed.

But Hor Namhong said combined investment from Singapore alongside trade totalled more than $1 billion for the first six months of 2010, up 62 percent on last year.

Camcontrol’s statistics show Cambodia’s main exports to Singapore included sand, semi-manufactured goods, unwrought gold, cigarettes, clothing, and silk, while Singapore largely exported un-wrought gold, diesel, gasoline, lubricants and whisky to the Kingdom.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING JEREMY MULLINS

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