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Top diplomat talks up investment law to envoys

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn. Heng Chivoan

Top diplomat talks up investment law to envoys

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn expressed optimism that the new investment law would be an important, effective and timely tool to restore socio-economic activity after Covid-19 and turn Cambodia into an attractive destination for investors.

The minister made the remark on November 3 at a virtual workshop organised by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) in collaboration with the foreign ministry to shed light on the new law.

The event was attended by 170 people, including the foreign ministry leadership and personnel at all Cambodian embassies.

Sokhonn praised the CDC leadership and the team behind the six years of study, research and drafting involved to make the investment law a reality.

The minister also highlighted the negative consequences of the Covid-19 crisis and the ongoing Sino-US trade spat, which he said significantly stymied the global economy and hampered foreign direct investment (FDI) flows around the world.

The power competition between the two economic powerhouses have altered the international order; put pressure on the Asia-Pacific region; and undermined ASEAN centrality and solidarity, as well as the region’s relations with external partners, he said.

Sokhonn was quoted in a statement as saying: “[I] strongly believe that the promulgation of this investment law has produced an important, effective and timely tool for socio-economic recovery after the Covid-19 crisis, and will transform Cambodia into an attractive destination for investors, while the Royal Government has decided to gradually reopen economic and social activity to welcome foreign investors and travellers, fully-vaccinated tourists in particular.”

CDC secretary-general Sok Chenda Sophea expressed deep gratitude for the presence of the deputy prime minister, as well as his contribution to efforts to educate Cambodian ambassadors on the investment law, an endeavour which he described as an overarching strategy to showcase the opportunities present in the Kingdom to lure more quality investment.

He voiced appreciation for the regular forms of cooperation between the foreign ministry and Cambodian diplomatic missions, which he said always offer crucial contributions to the promotion abroad of investment opportunities and the broader climate.

“Through a detailed presentation on the Investment Law of the Kingdom of Cambodia, as well as the discussions in this workshop, [I] am optimistic that [Sokhonn], who is the representative of Cambodia abroad, will further promote the benefits provided in this law so that overseas investors can better understand and make [more informed] decisions concerning investment in Cambodia, a destination with investment potential.”

Initiated in 2015, the investment law underwent thorough research and development, led by a CDC working group, and was designed in accordance with the guidelines of the Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025.

The first working version of the draft law was completed at the end of the first half of 2019, in accordance with recommendations made by Prime Minister Hun Sen at the 18th Government-Private Sector Forum on March 29 that year. The new law was approved by the National Assembly last month.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance reported that just 75 private investment projects planned outside of special economic zones (SEZ) were approved by the CDC in the first eight months of 2021, down by nearly 30 per cent year-on-year.

The report presented an overall glum picture for new investments in non-SEZ projects, with new ventures approved by the CDC in January-August involving a total capital investment valued at $1.106 billion, dipping by 52.5 per cent year-on-year, and expected to create 57,000 jobs, contracting by 32.3 per cent on a yearly basis.

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