Businessmen from Hong Kong and Macau first set foot in Cambodia more than 20 years ago – stretching back to the time when the Kingdom had just freed itself from a tumultuous war-ridden period.
The Hong Kong Business Association of Cambodia (HKBAC) vice-chairman So Man Kit said many Hong Kong and Macau businessmen invested in the garment industry in the early 1990s.
Today, the industry has grown into a major player in the region – supplying the import demands of regions and countries such as Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan.
The Cambodian garments sector benefits from the European Union’s (EU) Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement. However, it could lose its benefits under the EBA as the EU considers penalising the government for its alleged move away from democracy.
HKBAC vice-chairman Raymond Tam, who is also the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) executive member, told The Post that GMAC has hired a lobbyist to talk to the EU on this matter.
“We appointed the lobbyist to help explain our stand and express our opinions to the EU. In my view, we have a 70 per cent chance of retaining our EBA status. The EU will be making a final decision on our status anytime from November 8-20.
“By then, we would know if Cambodia will fully retain, partially retain or lose its preferential treatment from the EU,” he said.
Other than the garment industry, the property development sector is another segment of Cambodia’s economy with a strong presence of investors from Hong Kong and Macau. Among the notable companies is Sunwah Group.
Sunwah has invested in Cambodia for over 25 years. In the early years, it focused primarily on the import and export trade. Its business extended to the manufacturing and processing of seafood for exports. Today, Sunwah is a renowned real estate developer with portfolios in Cambodia.
The development project comprises of office buildings, a commercial complex, an arts centre, a cultural square, resorts, condominiums, a five-star hotel, an exhibition centre and a public park.
Food products from Hong Kong and Macau can also be seen in Cambodia. Some brands have set up outlets in the Kingdom, while others are imported. Among the notable products are egg tarts, traditional biscuits and moon cakes.