Cambodia Investment Review

Australia-Cambodia Ties Bolstered with New Investment Handbook: Key Advantages & Insights Revealed by Leading Australian Investors

Australia-Cambodia Ties Bolstered with New Investment Handbook: Key Advantages & Insights Revealed by Leading Australian Investors

Harrison White

In a landmark effort to enhance economic relationships between Australia and Cambodia, the Australian Government, in partnership with the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), has released the ‘Handbook on Investing in Cambodia’. The comprehensive guide aims to simplify regulatory procedures, highlight investment opportunities, and collate testimonials from influential Australian investors and business owners in Cambodia.

Unveiled with an overarching intention to solidify economic connections and promote trade and investment with Cambodia, this handbook is in line with Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy projected up to 2040. The guide’s release signifies a strategic step in forging strong economic bonds between the two nations.

Read more: Australian Government & Council for the Development of Cambodia Launch Flagship ‘Handbook On Investing In Cambodia’

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has steered the project, with significant contributions coming from a host of Australian investors. The handbook was put together by Team Leader Mr. Sven Callebaut, Investment Specialist Ms. Ratana Phurik, and Legal and Regulatory Consultant Ms. Lyze Ikopo Bentoto, alongside the collective insights of the CDC team.

The handbook notably shares insights from existing Australian investors, revealing ten key advantages to investing in Cambodia. These are:

  1. Diverse investment opportunities spanning various sectors including tourism, garment manufacture, and agriculture. Additionally, there’s an increasing emphasis on high value-added and skill-intensive sectors as Cambodia aims to transition into a middle-income, knowledge-based economy.
  2. A welcoming environment for foreign investors, with 100% foreign-owned investment allowed in nearly all sectors.
  3. A stronger regulatory framework with recently introduced and updated laws, including the Law on Investment, the new Law on Consumer Protection, the Competition Law, the Law on Taxation, and new double taxation agreements.
  4. Attractive investment incentives and tax regimes for foreign investors.
  5. Aligning with international standards through participation in bilateral, plurilateral, and multilateral free trade agreements.
  6. An abundance of natural resources, including land, water, and minerals, and potential reserves of oil and gas.
  7. Competitive operational and labor costs, bolstered by a young, increasingly literate workforce. With over 50% of the Cambodian population under 35 and a labor force participation rate of 83.7%, according to the 2021 Cambodia socio-economic survey, the human resource potential is immense.
  8. A rapidly growing middle class, an expanding expatriate community, and a foreigner-friendly local populace.
  9. Proximity and easy access to larger economies such as Thailand, Vietnam, and China.
  10. The prevalent use of English in business transactions and the widespread acceptance of US dollars.

“This handbook presents an outstanding opportunity to illuminate the wide range of benefits that Cambodia offers to foreign investors,” said Sven Callebaut, one of the primary contributors to the handbook. “We are confident this tool will help prospective Australian investors navigate and capitalize on the many opportunities in this dynamic economy.”

Key Australian Businesses in Cambodia: Success Stories and Sector Insights

In the ‘Handbook on Investing in Cambodia’, numerous Australian business owners & investors shared their experiences and insights into the Cambodian market. These companies, operating in a variety of sectors, provide valuable advice and testimonials for prospective Australian investors.

‘Handbook On Investing In Cambodia’ at Rosewood Hotel Phnom Penh on July 10, 2023.

ACE: Making Strides in Cambodia’s Education Sector

The Australian Centre for Education (ACE), after winning the Language Educator of the Year at the Pioneer Awards in London, offered insights into its long-standing success in Cambodia’s education sector. Ashley Irving, who transitioned from corporate banking to education, cited the significance of understanding the market, building relationships with key stakeholders, and embracing long-term investment for sustainable profits.

Ashley stressed that, while profit margins might not seem lucrative initially, the rewards of long-term investment in education are ample. “Providing the best service possible to our students has always been our core aim,” he added. Under his stewardship, ACE has grown significantly, with student enrollments surging from 6,000 per term in 2012 to over 25,000 pre-COVID. “It’s hard work, relationship building, and constant innovation that got us here,” he said.

Liberty Mining: Uncovering the Mining Potential

Richard Stanger, a seasoned investor in the mining industry, voiced optimism about the untapped potential in Cambodia’s mining, oil, and gas sectors. With his company, Liberty Mining, later acquired by Angkor Resources, he highlighted Cambodia’s investor-friendly laws, the improving capacity of the Ministry of Mining and Energy, and competitive taxation on extractive industries.

Richard also lauded the political stability and public-private policy dialogue in Cambodia as attractive features for long-term investment. “The government is very business-friendly and protects investors from discrimination and expropriation,” he said.

Based on his global experience, Richard recommended investors to thoroughly research before entering the Cambodian market. “Australian mining companies have a real competitive advantage in Cambodia due to their high standards and sustainable practices. Take advantage of it,” he urged.

DFDL: Charting the Cambodian Market Evolution

Chris Robinson, an Australian lawyer and partner at DFDL, a leading regional law firm, lauds the evolution of the Cambodian market over the past decade. With over 25 years of experience, Robinson has witnessed first-hand the liberalization efforts transforming Cambodia into an attractive investment destination. He highlights the surge in merger and acquisition activities, particularly in the manufacturing, real estate, construction, agriculture, and service sectors.

Chris emphasizes the importance of understanding cultural differences, establishing key relationships, and being well-versed in the Cambodian business environment and regulatory framework. He points out the critical need for experienced tax professionals and learning from long-term market participants to navigate the Cambodian market.

Red Furnesse: Building Success in Cambodia

Paul Redfern, founder of Red Furnesse, a company offering turnkey construction solutions, shares his journey of over 30 years in the Cambodian construction sector. Paul praises the Cambodian Government’s support of SMEs and the simplicity of the company registration process.

However, he expresses concern over the scarcity of skilled workers and challenges posed by recent labor law regulations. Paul stresses the need for businesses to be selective in their dealings, mentioning the popularity and positive perception of Australians in Cambodia.

Auscham Cambodia: Bridging Australian and Cambodian Businesses

Kenneth Tang, President of Auscham Cambodia, sees numerous advantages for Australian companies in Cambodia. He cites the low entry barriers, welcoming locals, and ease of obtaining relevant visas as significant benefits. Kenneth points out that operation costs, including staff and rental fees, are much lower in Cambodia compared to other Asian countries.

He advises potential investors to prepare themselves for a different cultural and business environment than they are used to, encouraging them to do their homework before diving in. Kenneth also shares his enriching personal journey of returning to Cambodia and re-discovering his own culture.

With a unique blend of experiences and insights, these experts underline the immense potential Cambodia holds for Australian businesses, provided they are willing to invest time, effort, and patience.

GEI Mekong: Transforming Waste into Wealth

At the forefront of the waste management and renewable energy sector, GEI Mekong is an innovator, equipped with cutting-edge Japanese and Australian patented waste-to-energy pyrolysis technology. This revolutionary system economically converts various forms of waste into electricity, diesel, bio char, and other valuable products.

William Willis, the Director and CEO of GEI Mekong, speaks passionately about the company’s plans to expand this groundbreaking technology into Cambodia. He also mentioned their two projects in Laos and seven pipeline projects across Australia and New Zealand. “There are massive needs in the field of waste management and opportunities to convert waste-to-energy,” William noted.

However, William underscored the necessity for improvements in the pre-feasibility and feasibility assessment phases to streamline information access for potential investors. He stressed the importance of an experienced local partner once feasibility studies are completed, which can expedite investment decisions and prevent delays caused by complicated procedures of uncoordinated agencies.

Future: Pioneering High-Standard Design and Construction

Future, a leader in design, construction, and real estate in Cambodia, provides total end-to-end building and design solutions. They collaborate with partners in London, Hong Kong, and Sydney, underscoring their global reach.

Ian Harry Mann, the architect, founder, and managing director of Future, identified a shortage of professional and quality-driven service providers in Cambodia. He spoke of immense opportunities for Australian companies to meet these demands.

Ian emphasized that the growing Cambodian construction sector is continually in need of foreign professionals due to a lack of local expertise. “Transparency, ethics, and integrity are Australian values that are highly appreciated by developers,” Ian shared. He stressed the role of Australian businesses in upholding high standards of safety and quality in Cambodia’s construction industry.

The following table lists Australian companies operating in Cambodia along with their respective industries and websites:

Company Name Industry Website
Acclime Services Investment Advisory Link
ALS Services Laboratories Link
Auskhmer Food, Wine and Beverage Importer Link
Australian International School Education Link
Cambodia Investment Review Media Link
Chris Robinson / DFDL Investment Advisory Link
Dynamic Group Tech, Agro, Energy Link
Future Architecture Link
GEI Mekong Ltd. Waste to Energy Manufacturing Link
Highland Group Real Estate and Construction Link
IDP Education Link
Liberty Mining Mining Link
LINFOX Logistics (Not Operating Yet) Link
Matthew Rendall Sok Siphana & Associates Investment Advisory Link
Mekong Strategic Partners Investment Advisory Link
MGA Asia Insurance Brokers Co. Ltd. Insurance Link
Phnom Penh Beer Beverage Manufacturing Link Real-Estate Link
Red Furnesse Constructions Link
Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd Mining Link
Secure Parking Cambodia Transport Link
Scenic Tours Tourism Link
Stratco   Link
Tetra Tech International Development Consulting Link
Urban Design Studio Design Link

This unique blend of experiences and insights shared by these companies underscore the vast potential Cambodia offers for Australian businesses, affirming the importance of the recently launched handbook in fostering stronger economic ties between Australia and Cambodia.

Scan QR to download the handbook.

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