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Japanese bank tests Kingdom’s waters

Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation yesterday opened a representative office in Phnom Penh in the latest Japanese bid to expand investments and pursue Cambodia’s still untapped markets.

Cambodia’s location at the very heart of the Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS) is enticing to foreign companies, General Manager of Planning at SMBC Hiroshi Irie said.

“Japanese banks are now coming back to Cambodia after 45 years. Cambodia is located in the centre of the GMS, which is a strategic position for trading in the region,” he said.

Chairman of the Japanese Business Association of Cambodia Hiromitsu Iwatate said that SMBC’s new opening reflected a growing trend amongst Japanese businesses looking to expand in Cambodia.

“Japanese companies have been increasing sharply in Cambodia over the last three years. It has risen from 50 companies [in 2009] to 100 now, even though the numbers remain small compared to Thailand and Vietnam.”

According to Suzuki Hiroshi, president of the Business Research Institute for Cambodia (BRIC), the SMBC office will function primarily as an  information office for Japanese investors.

“It’s my understanding that their objective is to gather information in Cambodia to give to their customers and potential Japanese investors, and also to provide assistance to Japanese investors in Cambodia,” he said.

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