The Bangkok-based Cambodia Business Council (CBC) and local Innovation and Development Investors Association (IDI) have joined forces to engage with and attract more investors as well as to improve Cambodian exports regionally and globally.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed to this effect on February 1, between CBC vice-president Sar Sarin and IDI chairman Hor Sereyvath at the IDI’s offices in Phnom Penh.

Established a couple of years back, the CBC’s main objectives include promoting Cambodia’s economic diplomacy agenda to foreign countries as well as opening channels for Cambodian-made products to reach a wider international audience, Sarin told the MoU signing ceremony.

“Economic diplomacy” refers to the use of government resources at home and abroad to bolster a country’s economic growth as well as achieve foreign policy objectives and other national interests through the advancement and encouragement of trade, investment, employment and other forms of economic activity.

The CBC also acts as a bridge of trust between businesspeople seeking to establish joint ventures or other partnerships to bolster trade and investment, Sarin said, adding that the “milestone” deal would make things easier for national and international players connected with the CBC to seek out business and investment opportunities through the IDI.

“We are ideal partners, complementing each other and sharing the same vision and mission: to expand the presence of our local homemade products abroad, and to bring in more investors, to contribute to inclusive economic growth and job creation,” he said.

Sereyvath told the event that the IDI and its investment arm, ID Capital Plc (IDC), were established in 2021, with the aim of becoming a popular choice for investors looking to build a “profound” network, leverage local expertise and resources, source investable projects, and achieve high returns on investment.

With 101 members among its ranks, the IDI currently has 19 projects in its investment portfolio, mainly focused on real estate, agriculture and services, he said, adding that the institution works with many foreign investors.

He claimed that the MoU would help a variety of businesspeople and investors expand their networks and have access to additional support, adding that the two associations would team up to bring more business and investment to Cambodia, and expand the Kingdom’s exports regionally and globally.

“The collaboration will be a new momentum contributing to the inclusive growth of the country’s economy, guided by our professional team and expertise,” he said, adding that the two institutions have “many projects” in the pipeline.

On January 24, the government announced that it had revised down its 2023 growth forecast for the Cambodian economy to 5.6 per cent versus the 6.6 per cent it put forth in October, citing uncertainty about global economic growth tied to the Ukraine conflict, climate change and the Covid-19 crisis.

And according to the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE), the Kingdom’s imports and exports totalled $29.942 billion and $22.483 billion in 2022, respectively, up 4.32 per cent and 16.44 per cent on a yearly basis, narrowing the trade deficit by 20.60 per cent to $7.459 billion.

Cambodia also approved major investment projects cumulatively valued at $4.68 billion in 2022, up 7.5 per cent over $4.355 billion in 2021, despite a lack of substantial improvements in regional and global economic conditions.

These figures were revealed in a January 6 report issued by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the government’s highest decision-making body for large-scale investments.

The leading source markets were the Greater China region – comprising mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan – Japan, the Cayman Islands, Thailand and Singapore, the report noted, listing major sectors represented by the ventures as agriculture and agro-industry, tourism, textiles, and infrastructure.