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SKorea expands presence

090319_13.jpg
090319_13.jpg

New KOTRA office reflects increased economic relations with Cambodia, says South Korean official, as plans for presidential visit to Phnom Penh announced

Photo by:

TRACEY SHELTON

Hostesses at the new KOTRA office launch in Phnom Penh on Wednesday. South Korea said the new premises reflected its increasing business presence in Cambodia.

KOREAN economic ties

  • $235m total Cambodia-South Korea trade in 2008
  • $214m trade deficit for

    Cambodia, up from $177 million in 2007

  • $1.257b in South Korean investment in 2008, double the amount in 2007

Source: KOTRA

SOUTH Korean President Lee Myung-bak is planning an official visit to Cambodia this year to boost trade and investment, and increase tourism between the two countries, the Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) said Wednesday.

The announcement was made at the launch of the new Korean Business Support Centre in Phnom Penh, which Minpha Hwang, KOTRA's senior executive vice president, said reflected the sharp increase in South Korean investment.

"We are expanding our office in Phnom Penh because trade volume and investment have increased," said Minpha Hwang, adding that Korean investment in 2008 had risen by 50 percent compared to 2007.

He said that the Korean government sees Cambodia as an important investment destination and that the Korean Business Support Centre would aim to facilitate commerce between the two countries.

He estimated that more than 1,000 Korean traders and investors are currently operating in Cambodia.  

"Everyday, Koreans are coming to Cambodia on holiday and for business ... we can cooperate with each other in every sector to create a strong relationship in areas such as agriculture, industry and natural resources," Minpha Hwang said.

He added also that the Korean and Cambodian economies were in a good position to recover quickly from the global economic slowdown.

Recovery prospects

"Manufacturing-based economies are stronger than economies based on services, and I have not heard of any Korean investment projects in Cambodia that have been cancelled or suspended," he said.

We can cooperate with each other ... to create a strong

relationship.

Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh told Korean investors Wednesday that the planned visit by the South Korean president this year will pave the way for more trade and investment between the two nations.

Shin Sujoo, general manager of Korean Air, said he welcomed the planned Korea Business Support Centre in Phnom Penh and that he expects bilateral tourism to increase.

The Cambodia-South Korea Free Trade Agreement allows duty-free access for 11,261 categories of Cambodian goods, but Cambodia has yet to capitalise on its export potential.

Increasing deficit

According to Commerce Ministry figures, Cambodia ran a US$214 million trade deficit with South Korea in 2008, making it the sixth-largest exporter to Cambodia.

In 2007, South Korean exports totalled $177 million, which meant a trade deficit for Cambodia of $172 million.

Korean investment in Cambodia grew from $172 million in 2006 to $828 million in 2007 and $1.257 billion in 2008, said a KOTRA statement.

Cham Prasidh also said that Seoul had imposed restrictions on some agricultural goods like bananas, pineapples, rice, beef, pork and fish to protect South Korean prices.

The commerce minister was nonetheless complimentary of South Korea's economic policies over the past 65 years that he said had led from ruin to prosperity in a  relatively short period of time.

"Cambodia should learn from Korea and its recovery after World War II to become a strong economy in the region," he said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen is also scheduled to visit South Korea from June 1 to 2.

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