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Korea seeks out investment

Delegation checks out garments, IT and telecoms for business opportunities

SOUTH Korean business leaders are looking to invest in Cambodia’s garment, telecommunication and information technology sectors, an official from the ASEAN-Korean Centre said Monday.

Representatives from 11 communication and technology companies – including multinational electronics giant LG – and three garment manufacturers are touring Phnom Penh to seek out potential investment deals.

According to the ASEAN-Korea Centre’s director of development planning and general affairs, Jae-hyun Cho, representatives hope to invest in their respective sectors.

At a Monday press briefing, held at the capital’s Sunway Hotel, he said: “The mission is focused on IT services and the garment industry in particular. It is aimed at providing opportunities for the investors to better understand these industries and to explore investment opportunities in Cambodia.”

South Korean business representatives who spoke to the Post pointed to a potential transfer of garment production to Cambodia from bases in China, in order to benefit from the ASEAN Free Trade Area agreement, which came into force in January.

Lim Jae Hyun, general manager of the production business team at In The F Co Ltd, a Korean fashion design firm, said he was impressed with the investment climate in Cambodia’s garment sector.

“Currently, our garment sourcing is in China, so this is an opportunity to possibly transfer from China to ASEAN countries, particularly Cambodia,” he said, and added that both labour costs and tariffs are on the rise in China.

He also pointed to a slowdown in the Chinese garment sector as the country shifts towards electronics manufacturing as a reason for his exploration into opportunities in the Kingdom.

However, he said the firm still needs to study the labour skills available and quality of production in Cambodia before making an investment.
Representatives from international electronics firm LG also confirmed it is eyeing the Cambodian market.

Huh Youngmahn, general manager of strategy and marketing unit at LG CNS Co Ltd, said he was investigating whether to build a data-management centre in the country. He also highlighted investment potential in national passport or immigration-control measures.

“It is still early to reveal the detail of any investment opportunities, but this is the starting point,” he said.

The delegation will meet with officials from both the private and public sector, Jae-hyun Cho said.

The business representatives are visiting the Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication, the Commerce ministry, as well as the Garment Manufacturing Association of Cambodia and a handful of IT and telco companies.

Ki Bong Moon, ASEAN-Korea Centre’s trade and investment manager, said the mission was also a chance for the Koreans to share experiences with local companies.

Trade volume between Cambodia and South Korea has almost doubled in the last five years from $150 million in 2005 to $291 million last year, according to Jae-hyun Cho.

Korean investment to Cambodia has also risen sharply from $111 million in 2005 to around $1.6 billion in 2009.

South Korea has emerged as the second-largest investor in Cambodia after China.

The delegation will leave Cambodia today for Myanmar.

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