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FTB Bank boss supports SMEs, says ASEAN is important

FTB Bank boss supports SMEs, says ASEAN is important

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Q & A with Gui Anvanith

Why does the FTB support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Cambodia? {jathumbnail}

SMEs play an important role in the development of the economy and of the country. They are the engines of growth for the country and for FTB, the SMEs have been our very important business partners in the last three decades. FTB has provided financial services and products to help the SMEs grow and fuel the economy.  As a business partner, when the SMEs grow and become stronger, FTB also grows with them.

How important are SMEs for the future of Cambodia?  
With the very limited presence of global and multinational companies in Cambodia, SMEs play a  crucial role in our country’s economic development. They provide jobs and incomes for the people to improve their living standards and lift our people out of poverty. Our economy will grow at a faster rate with thriving and successful SMEs. Our country can only gain from dynamic young entrepreneurs.

Are there some sectors of the Cambodian economy where SMEs are better placed to succeed than others?
The service and trade sectors seem to attract more SMEs because they are less capital-intensive.  Agriculture is currently under-developed, and therefore the potential for growth is still very high because we still have the most important asset: abundant arable land and a labour forces that is suitable to work in this sector. With the government focus and support in this sector, it becomes one of the potential growth sectors.  

What can the Cambodian government to help SMEs? Has it been helpful up until now?
The Cambodian government has been very helpful to SMEs.  The Ministry of Commerce, for example, has played an active role in promoting Cambodian SMEs’ products by participating in several international trade fairs. And certain products made by SMEs, particularly in the agri-sector, enjoy free export taxes.

What makes FTB different from other banks in the kingdom? 
Having been established since 1979, FTB has been the first and the foremost bank in Cambodia. We have provided financial services to our customers, SMEs included, for the past 33 years.  We have built, established and developed a close relationship with some of the oldest SMEs in Cambodia; some of them are now among its largest companies.

What are the primary issues facing the Cambodian banking and finance sectors?
The absence of long-term funding to finance long-term projects.  With the establishment of the securities market, however, the capital market, not only for equity but for long-term debt issuance, will enable banks to issue long-term bonds.

Do you see the riel overtaking the dollar in Cambodia any time soon? Or ever? 
In the short term, the business community is still favouring the dollar for convenience in trade. It will be a gradual process. I understand the National Bank of Cambodia is closely looking at managing the riel/dollar issue to ensure that the transition occurs in the proper ways and that they do not severely impact on the stability of the financial sector and the economy of Cambodia. One positive consequence is that the riel is now a reasonably stable currency, and this may accelerate the growth in riel usage overall.    

Is Cambodia’s chairmanship of ASEAN likely to have a beneficial effect on SMEs in the Kingdom?
Definitely. I think the chairmanship will increase activities in the country, as it will project a spotlight on Cambodia. This will inevitably draw the world’s attention and help promote business activities in Cambodia, and SMEs will certainly benefit.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at [email protected]

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