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Iranian investment doubted

Two Cambodian lawmakers return after five-day trip to Tehran.

RELIGIOUS and cultural differences coupled with a lack of information could make it difficult to attract investment to the Kingdom from Islamic states, officials said after a five-day trip to Iran.

On Saturday, two of Cambodia’s lawmakers returned from attending an Asian Parliamentary Assembly in the Iranian capital of Tehran. During the meeting, the officials tried to spread the word about investment opportunities in Cambodia, which expects a rice surplus of about 2 million tonnes this year and is seeking diverse markets in which to sell it.

“At the sidelines of the meeting, we introduced documents about Cambodia’s potential for investment to the Iranian parliament, highlighting the agricultural sector,” said Try Chheang Huot, chairman of the National Assembly’s commission of planning, investment, agriculture, rural development, environment and water resources on Tuesday.

“But I have no confidence that Iranian investors would come to do business here,” he added.

Some officials believe that a cultural gulf could prove a barrier for trade. Cheam Yeap, chairman of the the National Assembly’s commission of economy, finance, bank and audit, who did not venture on the trip, said: “For Iran, as well as other Islamic countries, it’s rather difficult to attract them because of, from my own experience, the difference in traditions, customs and religion. For capitalist countries, it’s easier for us.”

Chhith Kim Yath, deputy chair of the Senate’s committee for energy and trade, who went to Iran, remained more positive. He said that religious differences are not a barrier to Islamic investors entering Cambodia.

“The shortage of information from Cambodia is a key hindrance. At least, we have introduced them to the potential of Cambodia. Before, they knew nothing,” he added.

Cambodia has sought investments from Kuwait and Qatar in the past, where food shortages are a concern.

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