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New survey to take a deeper look at FDI in the Kingdom

Development sites litter the Phnom Penh skyline earlier this year
Development sites litter the Phnom Penh skyline earlier this year. The National Bank of Cambodia yesterday announced that it would launch a Foreign Direct Investment Survey aimed at informing future government policies and providing data to potential future investors. Hong Menea

New survey to take a deeper look at FDI in the Kingdom

Aiming to provide quality information on the flow of investment into the Kingdom, the National Bank of Cambodia has announced it will launch a detailed survey of foreign investors.

Speaking at a signing ceremony in Phnom Penh yesterday, Chea Serey, director general at the NBC, said the lack of detailed data relating to foreign direct investment (FDI) was a barrier for the decision making of both future businesses eyeing Cambodia and the Kingdom’s policy makers.

“The statistics [from the survey] will be used as crucial input in setting up economic policy, preparation of the strategic development plan and other research relating to globalisation,” she said.

“Through the 2015 FDIS [Foreign Direct Investment Survey] and other surveys in the future, the National Bank of Cambodia will be able to keep track and measure the flow of value of foreign direct investment into Cambodia and be able to check the benefit of the foreign direct investment on the economy, for instance the transfer of skills and technology,” she said.

The survey aims to understand the economic value foreign investors will bring to the local economy. It will capture detailed business information such as the skills and technology companies will offer, as well as the industry-specific intentions of investors.

New projects registered with the Council for Development of Cambodia (CDC) and existing investors already in the Kingdom will both be surveyed under the new project.

ANZ Royal CEO Grant Knuckey welcomed the initiative he said would support the business community.

“I think various government agencies have consistently shown an increasing desire to get direct feedback from both existing and prospective investors, and this sounds like another good step in that direction,” he said.

The CDC, the government’s authority to approve foreign investment, releases some information on approved projects, but provides little detail other than the size and origin of the funding.

This lack of information limits the ability of economic policy making, according to Stephen Higgins, founder and managing partner of Cambodia-based investment firm Mekong Strategic Partners.

“The CDC data provide information on ‘approvals’ given by the CDC, I don’t believe it show what has happened in terms of actual investment flows. We know for example that quite a few projects are announced, but don’t actually happen, or don’t happen for several years,” Higgins said.

“Also, not all FDI will be approved by the CDC. For example, if an MFI raises additional capital from foreign shareholders, that’s unlikely to appear in CDC figures, but it is still investment into Cambodia,” he added.

“For the NBC, and economic policy makers, it’s important to know what the flows of foreign capital are into the economy each year, and which sectors they are going into.”

The NBC, in partnership with the National Institute of Statistics kicked off the project yesterday and expects the intial survey to be completed by the end of September.

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