A Vietnamese delegation signed what is believed to be the country's largest-ever investment package with Cambodian government representatives Friday afternoon.
Eight deals worth a combined US$420 million were announced following a meeting between the 60-strong delegation and Cambodian ministry officials at the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC)
"This is the biggest-ever investment from Vietnamese investors in Cambodia," Ngo Anh Dung, Vietnam's ambassador to Cambodia said. "Vietnamese investors like to do business in Cambodia because we are both members of ASEAN and we are very close neighbours. In addition, investors from both sides have received support from the leaders of the two countries."
Delegation leader Tran Bac Ha, who is the board chairman at the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), said all the projects would be started within six months.
BIDV would finance the projects, he added. BIDV entered Cambodia last month by buying Prosperity Investment Bank, renaming it the Bank for Investment and Development of Cambodia (BIDC).
The deals took the value of Vietnam-funded projects approved by the CDC to around $540 million, and Tran Bac Ha said he expected more approvals to follow.
"I hope that investments from Vietnam to Cambodia will reach $700 million by the end of this year," he said.
It was not clear Sunday whether those figures included Vietnam Airlines' $100 million investment in Cambodia Angkor Air, which began flying late last month. State-owned Vietnam Airlines took a 49 percent stake in Cambodia's new national carrier as part of a 30-year agreement. The Cambodian government holds the remainder.
Sok Chenda, CDC's secretary general, told reporters after the meeting that the investment focused on agriculture.
Projects included a factory to process rice and agricultural products for export, a sugar-cane factory and 10,000-hectare sugar-cane plantation in Kratie province, a bio-ethanol factory, a rubber plantation in Ratanakkiri province, a plywood-processing factory and a fertiliser factory.
The investors would also fund an electricity plant and a factory to produce building stones for the domestic construction sector.
"Now it's time that Cambodia harnesses the benefits from its favorable natural resources," Sok Chenda said.
Ngo Anh Dung said around 100 small, medium and large Vietnamese companies were currently operating in Cambodia. Sectors included banking, telecommunications, agriculture, electricity and mining.
Pitch for Sokimex
At the meeting, Sok Chenda also asked Tran Bac Ha to grant a loan to Cambodian conglomerate Sokimex for its Bokor mountain-top development in Kampot province.
"I convey the suggestion from Prime Minister Hun Sen to you," he said. "The prime minister suggests that the bank consider financing tourism investment projects, especially the Bokor mountain-top development project."
Tran Bac Ha said he would take into consideration the request for a $150 million loan for the project.