Prime Minister Hun Sen (C) and Pan Guangxue, the Chinese ambassador to Cambodia (5th L), pose for a photograph with a group of Chinese businessmen in Phnom Penh, Saturday, March 2, 2013. Photograph: Heng Chivoan/Phnom Penh Post
About 100 business delegates representing at least 52 Chinese firms are touring Cambodia this week in search of investment opportunities, according to an official.
Xiao Gang Chang, head of the group and president of China International Travel Service, spoke with Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday about the delegation, according to Eang Sophalleth, the prime minister’s personal assistant.
“Delegates of 52 companies have come to Cambodia to seek abilities to invest in Cambodia, particularly in Phnom Penh, Preah Sihanouk and Siem Reap province,” Sophalleth told reporters yesterday.
“Today, delegates are in the stage of studying about investment ability in Phnom Penh. Tomorrow, delegates will travel to Preah Sihanouk province’s special economic zone and continue to Siem Reap province on the same day.”
According to Sophalleth, the premier spoke with the delegates about the long and strategic relationship between Cambodia and China. He said China had helped Cambodia construct roads, improve irrigation systems and build hydropower dams to generate electricity.
“China helps Cambodia not only in social development, but also in strengthening its independence,” he said, adding that “the strategic partnership was not enough – we need investors to participate”.
Previously, Hun Sen and Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged to strengthen bilateral trade and to reach $5 billion by 2015.
“To reach this figure, the private sector plays an important role in participating to push investment,” the prime minister noted yesterday.
While direct flights from China to Cambodia have been increasing, they still did not meet the demand, Hun Sen said. “I ask for the delegates to examine this tourism sector.”
In January, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said Chinese tourists would reach two million by 2020.
Data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) show that the government has approved $9.05 billion of investment from China from 1994 to July 2012.
Most of these investments have gone to the garment industry, the mining industry, the agricultural sector and the rice milling industry.