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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Oz, NZ explore growth potential

Oz, NZ explore growth potential

ANTIPODEAN facts

  • Aid: Australia donated US$100 million to Cambodia between 2006 and 2008. AusAID will provide $64.5 million from 2010 to 2011, with reducing poverty and improving health and infrastructure as priorities.
  • Ambassador: Australia’s Margaret Adamson has also served as ambassador in Warsaw, Poland.
  • Banking: Australia New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) is partnered with the Royal Group to provide financial services throughout the Kingdom.
  • Railways: Oz logistics firm Toll Group has partnered with the Royal Group to upgrade the Kingdom’s railways, using $141.1 million in funding from the Asian Development Bank, AusAID and Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Companies (OPEC). It has a 30-year network concession.
  • Trade: Australia exported $36 million to the Kingdom last year with aluminum, wheat preparations and machinery as key products.

CAMBODIA’S recovering economy presents growth opportunities for overseas firms, Australia’s Ambassador to Cambodia Margaret Adamson said Wednesday.

Speaking to a trade delegation of 12 visiting Australian and New Zealand businesses and institutions, she highlighted agriculture, infrastructure and vocational training as areas with potential.

“I invite the businesspeople of Australia and New Zealand to think about the priorities of investment in Cambodia,” she said.

Australia Trade and Investment Commissioner Maurine Lam said the delegation aimed to foster future business ties in Cambodia’s rapidly developing economy.

“All the companies are coming not only to understand business opportunities but to build long-term trade relationships for the future,” she said at a press briefing at Phnom Penh’s Intercontinental Hotel.

Pro Chancellor of the Vietnam-based Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Merilyn Liddel, told the Post that his university was interested in tapping into Cambodia’s growing middle class who could be interested in receiving an overseas education.

“We are interested in having a regional presence [in South-east Asia], not just a presence in Vietnam,” she said, referring to the two campuses the university has built in the last 10 years in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, which offer Australian-approved courses.

However, she said there were no plans at this stage to build a campus in Cambodia.

Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) Vice Chairman Sun Chanthol said the Kingdom was open to attracting more foreign direct investment.

Australia exported US$36 million worth of goods to Cambodia last year, while $21 million was shipped the other way. Australia primarily exported aluminum, wheat and cereal preparations, and electrical machinery to the Kingdom, according to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) statistics.

Meanwhile, the rice industry was a key recipient of Australia’s foreign aid to Cambodia, according to AusAID counselor Lachlan Pontifex.

Approximately AU$50 million (US$43 million) has been earmarked for the sector by 2011, he said during a presentation at the seminar which was attended by around 150 people.

He added that aid would focus on making small landholders better able to market their rice.

Cambodia, Australia, and New Zealand have pursued liberalised trade ties through the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA), which came into force at the beginning of the year.

As the largest free trade agreement Australia has entered, it includes commitments to eventually reduce or eliminate the majority of tariffs between the parties.

Cambodia has been given a delayed schedule for reducing tariffs compared with most signatories, pledging to remove barrier on 88 percent of tariff lines by 2024, while Australia will have removed barriers on 96.5 percent of tariff lines by 2013, according to the text of the agreement on DFAT’s website.

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