The US embassy in Phnom Penh and American Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (AmCham) will take a four-point strategic approach to ramp up US business and investment into the Kingdom.

A Joint Working Plan was signed to this end on April 2 between US ambassador Patrick Murphy and AmCham president Anthony Galliano.

The plan centres on four key objectives – to support sales of US products and services, and increase awareness of the country’s brands and standards; and to work closely with the government and stakeholders to improve the Kingdom’s business climate.

The other two goals are to encourage corporate social responsibility (CSR) and building on the US’ “CSR leadership”; and to undergird the female business community, addressing gender disparities faced by the Kingdom’s women entrepreneurs.

Remarking that the US is Cambodia’s single largest trading partner, Murphy told the signing ceremony that the partnership would fuel the growth of US businesses in the Kingdom and lead to further investment and trade between the two countries.

“The combined efforts are to promote US businesses, and the US-Cambodia economic and commercial ties, expand US exports here in Cambodia, and increase the investment and trade in both directions,” he said in his opening remarks.

AmCham’s Galliano said US products are omnipresent in the Kingdom and “uniquely touch” people’s lives every day.

Stressing how “underestimated” the US presence in the Cambodian consumer market is and how “intangible” many US goods are, Galliano asserted that the US’ are “probably the most influential of any country’s products”.

He listed Facebook, Microsoft, Amazon, Google, WhatsApp and Coca Cola as examples of US companies that provide goods and services widely used daily by Cambodian consumers, adding that Apple iPhones, Dell computers, Hewlett Packard printers, Fuso trucks and John Deere tractors also enjoy substantial market share in the Kingdom.

He noted that US fast food brands such as Burger King, Domino’s Pizza, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dairy Queen, Papa John’s Pizza and Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken are conspicuously popular.

“As the Cambodian market grows, disposal income increases, transparency improves and infrastructure continues its rapid development, US companies will come and invest.

“In the past, food and beverage, technology, automotive and education have been the key sectors of investment in Cambodia.

“As the capital markets evolve and savings through pensions and investment funds develop, I expect interest to accelerate from the financial services sectors.

“The Kingdom is solving its electricity shortage and cost issues – this will encourage manufacturers to choose Cambodia as an alternative site to Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia,” Galliano said.

Trade between Cambodia and the US amounted to $6.9213 billion in 2020, up 17.89 per cent from 2019, data from the US Census Bureau show.

The Kingdom exported $6.5777 billion worth of goods, up 22.79 per cent from the $5.3568 billion posted in 2019, and imported $343.6 million, down 33.15 per cent from $514 million.

Cambodia mainly exported garments, footwear, bags and electronic components to the US, while automobiles, electronics and other finished products made up the bulk of imports.