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Delegates await a presentation at the Cambodia-China Business and Financial Development Forum yesterday in Phnom Penh.
Delegates await a presentation at the Cambodia-China Business and Financial Development Forum yesterday in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Red carpet for Chinese investors

The Cambodia-China Business Forum drew hundreds of Chinese investors to Phnom Penh yesterday to discuss opportunities to take a stake in Cambodia’s rapidly developing economy.

The high-profile investment conference, held under the tagline “Cambodia: The Kingdom of Opportunity Along The ‘One Belt, One Road”, saw representatives of more than 200 Chinese companies gather at a hotel conference centre on the outskirts of the capital. The full-day event was jointly organised by Cambodian conglomerate LYP Group, owned by CPP Senator Ly Yong Phat, and China Minsheng Investment Group (CMIG), China’s largest private investment group.

The gathering, which comes just a month after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit, explored investment opportunities for Chinese companies in Cambodia’s fast-growing economy, reviewed case studies of previous Chinese FDI, and ended with a number of investment deals signed.

The biggest of these was a $1.5 billion deal between LYP Group and property developer SRE Group, a Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of CMIG, to develop the Cambodia-China Friendship City on 550 hectares north of the capital.
Seng Nhak, director of LYP Group, said the development would include an international five-star hotel, a television broadcasting studio, a sports stadium, an 18-hole golf course and other entertainment facilities.

“We are now working on this project,” he said. “What’s most important for us is to cooperate with CMIG to establish an extraordinary international city that will be useful for people to live sustainably here.”

In his opening address, Prime Minister Hun Sen welcomed Chinese investors attending the conference and highlighted the depth of Chinese investment in Cambodia.

“In the last five years, China represented the biggest source of foreign investments in Cambodia, with an investment capital of $4.9 billion, of which some $560 million has been invested in our special economic zones,” he said.

In Channy, president of Acleda Bank, said the conference reflected the continued growth of bilateral relations, which has seen significant Chinese investment into major Cambodian economic and development projects.

“The size of Chinese investment in Cambodia is huge – it’s number one in terms of size,” he said.

“The main draw for this investment is the confidence of Chinese investors in Cambodia’s economic growth and political stability.”

Representatives of Chinese companies attending the forum expressed optimism in Cambodia’s economic development, and hinted at more investment to come.

Chen Yi Qin, chief operating officer of Zhejiang Provincial Energy Group, said strong historic ties between China and Cambodia had given Chinese companies confidence in their investment here. Moreover, Cambodia’s rapid economic growth in recent years was creating fresh business opportunities for his company.

“The energy industry in Cambodia has great potential for market growth in the near future,” he said. “In every industry you need energy.”Zhang Nan, deputy general manager of Sinosteel Corporation, a state-owned mining and metals trading firm, said the company was planning to expand its presence in the Kingdom.

“We expect to sign an agreement next year for an industrial park,” she said. “Under our leadership as a central state-owned enterprise in China, there will be a lot of related enterprises and factories flocking over to Cambodia.”

Wrapping up yesterday’s forum, LYP Group signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with 14 Chinese banks to fund investments of Cambodian industries and the ‘One Belt One Road’ project. Company representatives declined to discuss the details of the agreement.

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