Cambodia Investment Review

UK and Cambodia Roundtable Discussion Aims to Catalyse Investment into Cambodian Businesses in 2024 & Beyond

UK and Cambodia Roundtable Discussion Aims to Catalyse Investment into Cambodian Businesses in 2024 & Beyond

Cambodia Investment Review

A recent roundtable meeting was convened in Phnom Penh, bringing together over 20 participants from the British Embassy in Phnom Penh, the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC)/Cambodia Investment Board (CIB), UK investors and businesses, and Cambodian businesses seeking investment in sustainable infrastructure projects. The primary focus of the discussion was to encourage and facilitate UK investment into key sectors in Cambodia, including manufacturing, infrastructure, agriculture, agro-processing, green energy, and services industries.

His Majesty’s Ambassador to Cambodia, Dominic Williams MBE, opened the discussion by emphasizing the strong support the UK has shown towards Cambodia. “The UK has demonstrated strong support for Cambodia and the country holds an important role in the region. We see a lot of opportunity here,” he stated.

His Excellency Nut Un voanra, representing the CDC/CIB, highlighted the opportunities available in Cambodia, pointing out the abundant potential in agriculture, agro-processing, renewable energy, infrastructure, and manufacturing. He acknowledged the longstanding ties between the UK and Cambodia but noted the limited investment from the UK thus far. “There is every reason for UK investors to invest in Cambodia,” he remarked.

A Platform To Pitch Projects To UK Investors & Supply Chain Firms

The roundtable provided a platform for Cambodian businesses to pitch their projects to UK investors and supply chain firms. These pitches covered areas such as electronic vehicles, renewable energy, and waste management. The discussions revolved around what would be required to further encourage UK investment in these sectors.

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A representative from a UK infrastructure advisory firm expressed optimism about Cambodia’s investment potential. “When we look at UK investment in this part of the world, a lot of investment is in places like Malaysia where they’re more comfortable. I have strong belief in Cambodia. The potential is amazing and there are great, really impressive people in the Cambodian Government who are trying to do the right things,” he said. He also acknowledged the challenge in raising Cambodia’s profile among UK investors and emphasized the need to make Cambodia an attractive destination for investment.

His Majesty’s Ambassador to Cambodia, Dominic Williams MBE and Cambodian Prime Minster Hun Manet.

The CDC/CIB outlined various incentives and support mechanisms offered to investors, including those granted to Qualified Investment Projects (QIPs) under the 2021 Law on Investment and the 2023 Sub-Decree on Implementation of Law of Investment. These incentives include corporate income tax exemptions for up to nine years and exemptions from customs duty, special tax, and value-added tax on the import of construction materials and equipment.

Additionally, QIPs are eligible for a 0% VAT rate on local purchases and a 150% tax deduction for activities such as R&D, HR development, and provision of welfare for Cambodian workers. The CDC/CIB also highlighted major infrastructure projects and plans, including the Comprehensive Master Plan on Cambodia Intermodal Transport and Logistics System 2023-2033 and the Power Development Masterplan 2022-2040.

Cambodia Is Eager To Listen, To Learn & Is Ready To Partner With UK Investors

His Excellency Nut Un Voanra underscored the importance of UK expertise in Cambodia’s industrialization efforts. “We need UK expertise to industrialize… Cambodia is eager to listen, to learn and is ready to partner with UK investors. Insights and perspectives are invaluable as we work together to unlock new opportunities and realize a shared vision for aligning investment interests with Cambodia’s development goals,” he said.

The British Embassy expressed its commitment to continuing discussions and forums like this roundtable to share knowledge, strengthen government-to-government partnerships, and connect the public and private sectors of both countries. “We are encouraged by CDC’s openness for further discussion and engagement,” a spokesperson from the British Embassy said.

This roundtable discussion was part of the Growth Gateway program, a UK trade and investment initiative active in Cambodia since 2023. The program has supported the Cambodian government in developing its automotive and electronics industries, aiming to diversify into higher-value-added manufacturing and industrial sectors. This initiative follows the negative impact of COVID-19 on Cambodia’s key sectors such as garments and textiles.

A spokesperson from the British Embassy remarked, “It has been a great conversation, and I was particularly impressed by the innovative solutions that have been developed to overcome challenges in Cambodia, especially those affecting the rural poor, waste management, and other areas which need attention.”

Coordinating Investor Needs With Various Ministries & The British Embassy

His Excellency Nut Un Voanra concluded by emphasizing the CDC’s role as a coordinating agency working with various ministries and the British Embassy. “We hope that through the roundtable we can encourage new investors into Cambodia. We are not just closing engagement at the end of this roundtable. CDC is open. We are a coordinating agency, and we work with all line Ministries – Transport, Environment, Taxation and also work meaningfully with the British Embassy.”

Read More: UK Trade Envoy to Cambodia Signals Strong Faith in New Government and Focus on Boosting Bilateral Trade & Investment

The roundtable discussion came on the heels of a meeting between Cambodia’s Minister of Commerce Cham Nimul and Heather Wheeler, the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Cambodia and Laos. The two sides discussed the progress of the British Investment Partnership (BIP) and the utilization of the Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS).

The bilateral trade between Cambodia and the UK amounted to $872 million in 2023, a year-on-year decrease of 10.7 percent. Cambodia’s exports to the UK included clothing, footwear, bags, bicycles, and agricultural products, while imports from the UK comprised automobiles, machinery, electrical appliances, and electronics. Despite the decline, the UK remains committed to supporting the development of the Cambodian economy and promoting green and inclusive growth through initiatives like the DCTS and the British Investment Partnership.

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