The Singapore Business Investment Forum (SBIF) was formally launched on July 29 to provide a new platform for Singaporean businesses in Cambodia as well as prospective investors from the city-state.

The SBIF’s objectives include promoting strong partnerships with local trade associations, government agencies and other partners, luring additional investors to Cambodia, and showcasing the potential of Singaporean businesses as well as supporting their initiatives in the Kingdom.

At the accompanying launch ceremony, SBIF president Albert Tan expressed optimism that the forum would strengthen the momentum of bilateral investment and trade while fostering both public and private cooperation between the two nations.

“The inception of SBIF is rooted in our commitment to bolstering the Singapore business community and facilitating Singaporean investments in Cambodia,” said Tan, who is also vice-chairman of Textile, Apparel, Footwear and Travel Goods Association in Cambodia (TAFTAC).

“We recognise the need to bridge the information gap and re-establish Singapore’s branding presence in Cambodia. Our mission is clear: to be more attuned to the business pulse in Cambodia and to adapt swiftly,” he said.

At the same event, SBIF vice-president and Panda Bank CEO Cynthia Liaw outlined how the SBIF seeks to connect investors and businesspeople.

“I’d like to delve deeper into the profound benefits of the SBIF platform. Each one of us, hailing from diverse industries, brings a unique tapestry of connections, both local and international. This diversity is our strength.

“Through SBIF, we have the unparalleled opportunity to harness these connections, bridging international communities with Singaporeans. Our collective aim? To enrich and empower both existing and budding Singaporean enterprises here in Cambodia,” she said.

Meanwhile, Cambodia and Singapore recently launched a Financial Transparency Corridor (FTC) initiative intended to provide the necessary digital infrastructure for cross-border financial services and trade between small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in either country.

The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the initiative, according to a July 11 joint statement issued by the two central banks.

“Under the FTC, a Singapore financial institution – in assessing financing support for a Singapore SME buyer’s cross-border business with a Cambodian SME seller – can utilise the FTC to acquire trusted information from a Cambodian financial institution on the Cambodian SME seller.

“Similarly, a Cambodian financial institution supporting a Cambodian seller can obtain trusted information on the Singapore buyer through the FTC.

“Through such enhanced information flows, this can help SMEs in Singapore and Cambodia access broader digital trade networks such as the Business Sans Border Proxtera global network, and provide SMEs with greater trade connectivity within ASEAN and other growth regions,” it said.

According to Cambodian Customs (GDCE), Singapore was the Kingdom’s third largest trading partner and number-three export destination within ASEAN in the first half (H1) of 2023 – after Vietnam and Thailand in both cases – registering $786.774 million in merchandise traded between the two countries, $415.012 million (52.75%) of which came from the Kingdom.

The bilateral trade volume marked a drop of 62.16 per cent from $2.079 billion in 2022H1 as well as 36.75 per cent from $1.244 billion in 2022H2, while Cambodian goods exports to the city-state surged by 565.2 per cent from $62.387 million in 2022H1 as well as 1,275 per cent from $30.19 million in 2022H2.