Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia is hidden gem-expat

Cambodia is hidden gem-expat

Cambodia is hidden gem-expat

A n expatriate

Cambodian businessman, of the kind which the government is keen to attract,

spoke to John C. Brown about investment prospects here.

Entrepreneur Nick Ung spent a week in Phnom Penh weighing the

possibility of setting up a jewelry factory here for export to the United

States.

He already has his own jewelry business in Los Angeles and

setting up his own supplier would be a considerable boost to his business. But

there are many pitfalls to investing in Cambodia and he is wary of

them.

In fact Ung is wary of many things and still fears for his own

security here. He only agreed to be interviewed on the basis that a pseudonym be

used.

Ung says investment here is an attractive prospect for several

reasons.

He said: "Many things are good, the most important

consideration is the availability of cheap labor. In America the labor costs [in

the jewelry industry] are 10 times as high as in Cambodia."

Ung says a

second advantage is the fact that jewelry is already made here. "There are many

people with this kind of skill in Phnom Penh," he said.

"The third

advantage is that the people will work hard but the problem is that they do not

understand management systems.

"That is because many are not very well

educated at all. This is the biggest problem for investors who come to Cambodia.

The low level of education here means that the company owner must train the

workers in the company's system.

"But since I speak Khmer, I will have no

problem teaching my workers the things that they need to do. This is where many

foreigners have problems. This is where I have an advantage.

"In

addition, since I know how to do every job in the factory, I can train my people

to do their job."

But he added: "I would never consider opening a jewelry

shop here, anyone who comes here to open a business to take advantage of the

opening market will not make money. The present economy will not support it."

Ung believes that technology he wants to import from the US will allow

the jewelry to be made more quickly.

The jewelry will be designed in the

United States.

He said he would make a final decision on whether to

invest here after his return to the US.

He left Cambodia at the age of

twelve during the Lon Nol regime to study in Hong Kong. He was trapped outside

the country by the fall of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge.

When asked as a

potential investor in Cambodia what he expects from the Cambodian government ,

Ung said, "I only ask that the government protect me. I don't care about

politics.

"When I first came here I was scared about the security

situation. I thought that it was like the old days. But I can see that things

have changed. The number of security problems are less here than in other

countries.

"People think that it is worse, because every time something

happens, all the newspapers publish a story about it. Everything becomes

exaggerated."

MOST VIEWED

  • WHO: Covid in Cambodia goes into new phase

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia said that Cambodia has reached a new phase of the pandemic with “decreasing case numbers, high vaccination coverage and a more transmissible circulating variant threatening a hidden surge”. In a press release on September 6, the WHO said that

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • International air visitor arrivals dip 93%

    The number of foreign tourists entering Cambodia through the Kingdom’s three international airports witnessed a sharp 92.5 per cent year-on-year decline in the first seven months of this year, according to the Ministry of Tourism. The airports handled 51,729 international tourists in the January-July period versus

  • School reopening ‘offers model for other sectors’

    World Health Organisation (WHO) representative to Cambodia Li Ailan said school reopening process should be used as a role model for reopening other sectors currently mothballed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Li strongly supports the government’s decision to reopen schools, saying it is a decision

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • Is Cambodia’s microfinance sector running its course?

    Economic growth and the strength of the banking system might have prompted a slow decline of the microfinance segment that has been raising a population ‘The MFI business model is over,” opined David Van, a Cambodian investment expert, recently. He felt that in a couple