Members of the local business community are showing confidence in local magnate Kith Meng’s ability to lead the country’s and capital’s apex trade associations in his new three-year term as president of both bodies, as well as to improve access to overseas markets for domestic firms, boost exports, and bringing in more foreign investment.

Meng, chairman of local conglomerate Royal Group of Companies Ltd, remained on as head of the Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce (PPCC), winning 39 out of 40 votes, as well the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), earning 15 out of 18 votes.

The CCC head is elected by the presidents of the PPCC and 17 provincial-level chambers of commerce, all of which are under the CCC. Both elections were held at the PPCC on January 11.

Meng has headed both business associations since 2005, according to the CCC’s website, which notes that it was established in the same year.

Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak, who presided over the closing ceremony, congratulated Meng on his victory, remarking that the CCC and its members have been “actively involved in boosting the national economy, by doing business in the country and attracting foreign investors”.

Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) president Song Saran congratulated Meng on his re-election, voicing enthusiasm for the future of the CCC’s mission of promoting and attracting investment as well as connecting local players to more international markets.

“Under his leadership, he has accomplished a lot in terms of building up business reputations as well as relationships, both domestically and abroad,” he said, highlighting Meng’s efforts to connect Cambodian businesspeople with promising opportunities and partners at the recent ASEAN summits and abroad as a delegation leader.

Saran also threw out that Meng has convinced a considerable number of foreign players to set up shop in Cambodia, and is responsible for a fair share of exports – a sentiment that was shared by Sar Sarin, senior vice-president of Bangkok-based Cambodia Business Council (CBC).

Meng has played a key role in promoting overseas sales of Cambodian-made goods, Sarin added.

“I’d like to express my delight, as well as my admiration for the renewed trust among the members who voted for him to lead the chambers of commerce again.

“He’s not only a talented leader, but also an outstanding helping hand for Cambodia. Here’s hoping for collaboration between the [CCC and CBC] to prop up trade between Cambodia and every country in the world,” he said.

In a speech after the vote, Meng thanked members for their confidence, and called for the support of the Ministry of Commerce, local authorities and all stakeholders, stressing that he alone cannot solve all of the problems confronting the business community.

“I’m determined to pull out all the stops to ensure that things improve, [even] where I’ve come up short in the past. [I’ll] work hard to protect the interests of businesspeople,” he said.

Speaking to The Post on January 12, CCC vice-president Lim Heng affirmed that Meng’s stewardship of the trade body has driven growth among Cambodian businesses locally and internationally.

“Under his [Meng’s] leadership, we’ve been very successful in drawing in investment and boosting exports.”

The CCC “plays an important role” in the business ecosystem, “providing input to the government for draft regulations and as a key dialogue partner of the state”, he said.

Heng also noted that the CCC president at times is required to head a number of international business-related organisations, and most notably, assumes the role of ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) chairman in the years that Cambodia takes over ASEAN’s rotating chairmanship – 2012 and 2022 to date.