VIETNAMESE investment in Cambodia declined last year to US$21 million from US$139 million in 2007, the Cambodian Investment Board, a government body, said this week.
The bulk of the decline was due to a US$100 million investment by telecoms operator Viettel in 2007, which bloated the figures.
Youn Heng, the director at the CIB's evaluation and incentive department, said Vietnam had invested mainly in agriculture and telecoms.
"Since the government posted border markers and offered land concessions to Vietnamese investors, these types of investments have increased," Youn Heng said, referring to the practice of allocating land concessions only in border areas where international boundaries had been agreed.
Youn Heng said inward investment by Vietnam was still low compared with that from China, South Korea and the United States - the three largest investors that last year approved projects worth US$6.3 billion.
The commercial counsellor at the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh, Le Bien Cuong, said more than 100 Vietnamese companies are operating in Cambodia, many in agriculture and hydroelectricity.
"The number of Vietnamese investors has increased, but I can't compare the number to China and South Korea because it is still relatively low," he said. He said he hoped that the number of Vietnamese investors would increase in 2009 as Cambodia developed further.
Vietnamese investors ... increased, but ... [THE NUMBER] is still relatively low.
Vietnamese embassy spokesperson Trinh Ba Cam told the Post last week that around 10,000 hectares of concession land located near the Vietnamese border is being used by Vietnamese investors to grow rubber and cassava.
"I hope that our good political and business relationship means Vietnamese investment in Cambodia will keep growing, and I encourage them to continue investing," he said.
Trinh Ba Cam said that since the two governments signed a memorandum of understanding for investment that focused mainly on land, Vietnamese investments had targeted the agricultural sector.
Ly Phalla, general director of the rubber plantation department at the Ministry of Agriculture, said Cambodia has 108,000 hectares of rubber plantations, of which 34,000 hectares are mature. The main markets for Cambodian rubber are Vietnam, Malaysia and China, he added.