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Indian firms urged to invest in Kingdom

Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari (left) and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An talk during a press conference in Phnom Penh earlier this year where they answered questions on a newly signed MoU aimed at driving tourism and business in the Kingdom.
Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari (left) and Deputy Prime Minister Sok An talk during a press conference in Phnom Penh earlier this year where they answered questions on a newly signed MoU aimed at driving tourism and business in the Kingdom. Heng Chivoan

Indian firms urged to invest in Kingdom

Cambodian officials and private sector representatives met a visiting Indian business delegation yesterday to pitch for more Indian investment in the country and to explore ways of increasing the relatively low level of bilateral trade and investment.

“We have only $88 million in investment from India so far, which is a small amount, so we want to attract more investors from India,” explained Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol, who highlighted the Kingdom’s favourable investment laws and macroeconomic stability.

Sanjay Bhatia, president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that the delegation represented multiple sectors and that the two memoranda of understanding signed during Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari’s visit in September was a good starting point.

“There is huge potential here in this growing economy, such as the energy sector, infrastructure, food processing and agriculture,” Bhatia said.

He said the meeting would give Indian investors a better idea of export and import opportunities, adding that total bilateral trade between the two nations was about $160 million a year.

Local investment officials told the visiting delegation that Cambodia would welcome more Indian investment, particularly in its agro business, tourism and manufacturing sectors.

Suon Sophal, director of public relations and investment at the Council for Development of Cambodia (CDC), said Indian investors could tap into Cambodia’s potential to produce rice, corn, cassava, sugarcane, rubber, cashew nut and peppercorn, as well as livestock farming and aquaculture.

He ended his pitch by adding that the Kingdom’s attractive incentive and tax policy – a nine-year tax holiday and 20 per cent corporate tax – was the lowest in the region.

Economist Ram Upendra Das, a professor at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) in New Delhi, said India was looking to make strategic investments in each of the four countries in the CLMV region, which comprise Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

While Indian investors were already looking at the garment sector in Myanmar, Cambodia could attract investments in the tourism sector, he said. This could entail, he suggested, aiding their Cambodian counterparts in training the tourism workforce.

Another sector that could see potential investment in was the agro sector, where Indian businesses could provide consultancy services to farmers, helping them address issues such a fertiliser use and crop planting.
“Indian investors should invest in these focus sectors, which have the most potential,” he added.

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