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Investment law change-up

Following the announcement of recent reforms to Cambodia’s customs department and Commerce Ministry, a revision of the country's investment law is planned for next year, according to the secretary-general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).

Speaking to reporters at a workshop at the Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh yesterday, Sok Chenda said Cambodia’s investment climate needed a revamp.

“We must clean up, improve and adjust to the new circumstances,” Chenda said, referring to a new regional competitive environment.

Previously Myanmar was not considered an attractive place for foreign investors, Chenda said. But now, after government reforms, it is opening up and becoming easier to do business.

“We have a new competitor,” he said.

Cambodia’s investment law was initially implemented in 1994. It was revised in 2003, but has since remained unchanged.

This is one of a series of economic changes announced in the past month.

In October the government set a 60-day deadline for the customs department to clean up corruption, while earlier this week the minister of commerce announced reforms that would reduce red tape for exporters in Cambodia.

A panel discussion including private sector representatives also voiced their reform priorities at yesterday’s workshop.

“For us . . . the chief challenge is human resources,” Martin McCarthy, managing director of Total Cambodia, said, referring to a lack of skilled labour in the local market.

Being able to find “very, very good young engineers, civil, mechanical, even construction engineers, is quite a challenge.”

Rami Sharaf, CEO of RMA Cambodia, agreed, saying “the number one problem is actually people.”

“What is needed here is to build the right task force of the relevant ministries in addition to the contribution and the presentation of the private sector, so all together can have a proper road map,” he said, referring to a plan for human resource development as the economy grows.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ANNE RENZENBRINK

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