The president of the Cambodian Investment Federation on Sunday highlighted the critical role of e-commerce in the local market as the government works to turn the Kingdom into a digital economy.

Speaking at a workshop organised by e-Zone Trading Plc, Ley Sopheap, who is also the president of the Cambodian E-commerce Federation, said e-commerce opens a world of opportunities for local small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

As the number of smartphone users grows and Cambodia embraces the Fourth Industrial Revolution, more and more businesses are choosing to make their services available online, Sopheap said.

Cambodians prefer to shop online rather than go to the market, he said, urging the government to finalise the much-awaited e-commerce law.

“E-commerce operators will profit more if they operate legally. The government is urging e-commerce firms to register,” he said.

In October, the National Assembly approved a draft of the e-commerce law. The draft contains 12 chapters and 67 articles, which will promote e-commerce and contribute to the development of the digital economy.

“After we have the e-commerce law, the government will issue a sub-decree to implement it further,” said Ministry of Commerce spokesman Seang Thay.

Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth said during a workshop last year that the digital economy is taking shape in Cambodia and creating new services like digital payments, online entertainment and e-commerce.

He said the countries that make the most of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are those that show flexibility to adapt to a changing economy and world.

“For developing countries like Cambodia, new technologies provide an opportunity to leapfrog, bypassing traditional phases of development.

“In the context of globalisation and global integration, Cambodia certainly cannot avoid the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. That requires the government to focus on seizing opportunities as well as managing risks,” Pornmoniroth said.

Last year, the government decided to set aside $5 million per year to support tech start-ups.