MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad headed a delegation of over 100
leading Malaysian businessmen to Cambodia on April 14-15 to encourage private
Malaysian investment in the growing Cambodian economy.
But Dr Mahathir
refused to be drawn on how much public sector aid money Malaysia was willing to
"We are not doling out money... It's a small amount. We
have a fair idea of what we can afford," said the Prime Minister, declining to
name a precise aid figure.
In a speech to the Malaysian delegation,
Co-Primier Norodom Ranariddh promised his government was working hard to create
a business environment which would encourage the investment of foreign capital
in the restructuring of the Cambodian economy.
During a seminar to
explain the Cambodian business environment, the co-premier emphasized that
regulations on investment are being designed to be attractive to foreign
"Our main policy is to grant very competitive investment
incentives, to facilitate investors, and to protect foreign investments," the
First Prime Minister told the gathering.
The government hopes to
encourage the flow of foreign capital into Cambodia by ensuring that foreign
businesses encounter no discrimination, he continued.
In addition, the
Cambodian Development Council, consisting of the Cambodian Investment Board and
the Cambodian Reconstruction Board, had been established to facilitate and
coordinate foreign investment, he said.
"The CDC will serve as a one-stop
service organization for investors," the co-premier added.
purpose of the CDC is to review and approve investment projects, provide
information and guidance to investors, interface with various ministries to
obtain appropriate licenses."
Minister of Finance Sam Rainsy later told
the gathering that movement of foreign currencies in and out of Cambodia,
expedition of company formation to allow companies to be created within 30 days,
and a favorable rate of corporate tax in relation to other countries in the
region were inducements the Cambodian government hoped would help Cambodia
compete for investment money with other budding economies.
corporate tax will be charged at 20 percent, which compares favorably with tax
rates of 30 percent in Malaysia and 25 percent in Vietnam, the businessmen were
"I don't think Malaysian businessmen have given Cambodia the right
amount of attention," Dr Mahathir informed journalists at a subsequent press
"I believe [Cambodia] now has in place the necessary legal
structure to enable investors to come here and help with development," he
The Malaysian Prime Minister cited tourism, hotel building,
infrastructure development, road construction, public power supply development
and telecommunications as areas in which Malaysians were interested in startup
Malaysian investment in Cambodia is presently estimated at $50
million, with over 170 Malaysian business interests registered with the
Current Malaysian business interests in Cambodia include
Cambrew, bottlers of Angkor beer and Pepsi, Tricelcam, and Cambodia Public
"At the moment Malaysian businessmen see so many opportunities they
are a little confused. They are already looking at investment in China, Vietnam
and the central Asian republics. Because of that they have not had the time to
focus on Cambodia," the Malaysian Prime Minister said.
emphasized Malaysia's commitment to training Cambodian technologists and
providing professional assistance, especially in agricultural sectors, rather
than donating aid money.
"We have promised help in areas where we have
the expertise. One of them is rubber. An interest has also been expressed in
opening palm oil estates."
"We will help to provide the necessary
planting materials. But this is a long process and we are not certain the
climate is good for oil palms."
"I think Cambodia sees Malaysia as a role
model," Dr Mahathir said, accenting Cambodia and Malaysia's historical
His prime ministerial visit, the first visit by a Malaysian prime
minister to Cambodia in 30 years, was a "renewal of the relationship which has
always existed between Malaysia and Cambodia," the Malaysian Prime Minister
"In the period when they were having trouble we were very
supportive of the people of Cambodia. I think they see us as one of the
countries who can be of help."
Dr Mahathir added that he was not unduly
concerned with the security risk of KR guerrillas.
"We have had
experience of this during the Communist insurgency. We felt quite secure. I
don't think the Khmer Rouge will be able to move around the country. I don't
think Malaysian businessmen should worry about that."
Dr Mahathir denied
reports that Malaysia had been asked to intervene with Thailand over the Thai
military's alleged support and assistance for the KR.