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UK minister talks investment

UK minister talks investment

9 Stephen Green

As Cambodia’s economy, driven by the garment industry, develops, more diversified investment opportunities in infrastructure and sectors such as financial services will emerge, Britain’s minister for trade and Investment said in Phnom Penh yesterday.

Visiting Cambodia for the first time on his two-week trip through Southeast Asia, where he is drumming up support for British companies, Minister Stephen Green said the garment industry is an important source of supply for  markets in England, but that “as time goes by, I would assume that the Cambodian economy will get more diversified, will move up the value chain, and as that happens, that will open up other opportunities”.

Speaking at the InterContinental Hotel. he said that as Cambodia’s economy continues to grow, smaller sectors like insurance and banking will grow rapidly.

“And that’s just one example. [There are] big needs for infrastructure investment in the energy sector, in transportation, airports, roads and so forth, but again, that will create opportunities for British businesses to participate.”

Trade between the United Kingdom and Cambodia reached about $750 million last year, a 27 per cent increase compared with 2011, data from the British embassy in Phnom Penh show.

Last year, Cambodia mainly exported garment, footwear, sugar and cereal grains to UK, while the UK sent over vehicles, textile yarn, fabric, machinery, medical and pharmaceutical products, the data show.

In January, the UK opened a Trade & Investment Office at the British embassy in Phnom Penh.

Figures from the Council for the Development of Cambodia show that British companies invested $2.4 billion in Cambodia between 1995 and 2011.

Earlier this year, the Post reported that South Korea nudged out England as the largest investor in Cambodia during 2012, with a total injection of about $287 million Cambodia’s garment industry has traditionally attracted the biggest share of the country’s investment, with Quantum Clothing as the largest British garment manufacturer in the country.

In January, British-basedPrudential launched operations in Cambodia’s nascent life insurance market.

A month later, the largest coffee brand in the UK, Costa Coffee, opened in Phnom Penh. Other UK firms are involved in engineering and design consultancy.

Green brushed off concerns yesterday when asked whether British companies would hesitate to invest in Cambodia in light of garment factory strikes and a lawsuit by Cambodian villagers against British company Tate&Lyle, which bought sugar from companies in Koh Kong province accused of rights abuses.

“I don’t think it’s so much that they are not investing because they are worrying about things, they are not investing because they haven’t thought enough about what the opportunities are,” he said.

Green was also expected to meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday.

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