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Cambodia’s date with US biz

Cambodia’s date with US biz

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The General Electric logo on a building behind a traffic light in Prague, in the Czech Republic. Photograph: Reuters

US companies will re-establish their commitment to Cambodia and the region today at the US-ASEAN Business Forum in Siem Reap, a high-profile meeting involving several heads of state and some of the biggest companies in the world.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will lead the largest- ever delegation of American businesses to the 10-country economic bloc.

Prime Minister Hun Sen, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Myanmar President Thein Sein will address the conference, at which US conglomerate General Electric is expected to sign a power agreement with a Cambodian firm.

“The forum, which will bring about 200 companies here, is a very important event for us to show the [US] about our integrity, our location and our business climate,” In Channy, president and chief executive of Acleda, Cambodia’s largest locally owned bank, said.

Location was the key word for attracting new business to the Kingdom, he said.

Insiders say Cambodia’s location in the centre of peninsular Southeast Asia will play an increasingly important role for logistics and the development of the so-called “Southern Economic Corridor”, a potential industrial belt that would run from Bangkok, through Phnom Penh, to Ho Chi Minh City.

“We are at the middle of ASEAN, connected to some of the other main economic countries in the region such as China, Korea and Japan,” In Channy said.

The forum will also serve as a one-day think tank for business leaders.

Cambodian Chamber of Commerce president Kith Meng would lead a delegation of leading local telecommunications, financial and agricultural businesses to exchange ideas with their US counterparts, chamber director-general Nguon Meng Tech said yesterday.

General Electric was expected to sign a partnership agreement for rural power development today wirh locally owned MOSA, a US embassy official, said.

US foreign direct investment in Cambodia grew substantially last year. Companies poured US$144.4 million into the Kingdom in 2011, a jump of more than 300 per cent compared to the year before, according to data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia.

Cambodia’s total exports to the US rose by 3.3 per cent to $1.08 billion in the first five months of the year compared to the same period last year, according to the Office of the US Trade Representative.

China has also made great efforts this year to boost bilateral trade with Cambodia. The two countries agreed in April to double their trade relationship to $5 billion by 2017.

“To neutralise [the increase in trade with China], much stronger ties between Cambodia and the US are indispensable,” Hiroshi Suzuki, chief executive at the Business Research Institute for Cambodia, said yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at [email protected]

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