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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Malaysia inks deals with the Kingdom

Malaysia inks deals with the Kingdom

I believe that there is still an opportunity to expand the scope of products ...

A SINGLE deal worth US$700 million formed part of an investment package worth more than $1 billion that was approved by Malaysian and Cambodian businessmen on Monday, officials said.

As Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak commenced a three-day official visit to the Kingdom, representatives from both nations’ private sectors signed six separate agreements at Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld Hotel and Casino.

Together, the business deals totalled more than $1 billion and covered products as diverse as chicken for KFC and security systems.

Cambodian Chamber of Commerce Secretary General Nguon Meng Tech told the Post Monday that one of the deals was worth $700 million alone.

In total, the deals almost matched the $1.2 billion worth of economic agreements inked with China in December.

Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation official Wong Lai Sum said during Najib’s visit to the operations centre of mobile-phone operator Hello, owned by Malaysia’s Axiata group, that the deals also included a “technical and training exchange” between a Cambodian university and Kuala Lumpur-based

Asia e University.

Another deal reinforced the formation of the Malaysia-Cambodia Business Council, she said.

A further contract was signed between Malaysia’s QSR Brands Berhad and Cambodia’s Royal Group to expand the presence of the fast-food chain KFC.

QSR Deputy Chairman Ahamad Mohamad told the Post at a KFC branch near Phnom Penh’s Cambodian-Japanese Friendship Bridge that under the agreement a $300,000 joint venture will be established, 51 percent owned by QSR and 49 percent by Royal Group. It will establish 25 farms to raise day-old chickens solely for the Kingdom’s KFC restaurants.

The Kingdom’s seven KFC outlets are set to expand to 10 by the end of the year, he said. The group plans to have opened 22 restaurants in Cambodia by 2014, a press release stated.

According to an official who wished to remain anonymous, the Malaysian prime minister was due to visit a KFC on Phnom Penh’s riverside, but his schedule would not permit it.

The renewed atmosphere of investment between Malaysia and Cambodia was welcomed by officials during the course of Monday.

Prime Minister Hun Sen told investors that Cambodia had great potential and invited them to explore investment opportunities, during a speech made to hundreds of delegates who accompanied Najib on his visit.

“I wish to invite the Malaysian businessmen who have not yet visited Cambodia to come for fact-finding, to explore investment opportunities and to meet and discuss with the Cambodia business community looking for partnership,” Hun Sen said at luncheon at NagaWorld.

“I believe that experienced Malaysian investors can seize successfully the many investment opportunities still available here,” he added.

Chamber of Commerce President Kith Meng said that in the coming years, Cambodia will emerge as one of the best-performing economies in Asia after experiencing a strong rebound in growth in 2010.

“It would not surprise me to see Cambodia return to GDP growth approaching 10 percent, presenting plenty of opportunities for many of you,” Kith Meng said.

“We look forward to seeing much more Malaysian investment here and greater trade between the two countries.”

Najib added that in the past his country had been the biggest investor in Cambodia for 14 consecutive years, with investment totalling $2.19 billion. Cumulative Malaysian investment in Cambodia during the past two years totals $118 million, he stated.

“I believe that this trend will continue to grow. Malaysian investors have been rewarded for the early risk that they took in their Cambodian ventures,” Najib said.

“I believe the primary challenge that we must overcome is to broaden the number of goods traded between Cambodia and Malaysia. Currently, our trade base is very narrow, confined to a few products on both sides,” he added.

“I believe that there is still an opportunity to expand the scope of products and services that can be traded between our two countries.”

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