Local SMEs seeking to internationalize considering Cambodia

The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) organised the Cambodia–Singapore Business Dialogue in mid-January 2020 to update Singapore businesses on Cambodia’s recent reforms to improve the country’s business environment, maintain its competitive edge as well as to create more opportunities for overseas investment.

His Excellency Sok Chenda Sophea, Minister attached to the Prime Minister and Secretary General of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, delivered the opening address and called on Singapore businesses to seize the growing opportunities in Cambodia. The Dialogue attracted more than 100 business representatives of mostly SMEs that are looking to expand overseas for the first time.

H.E. Sok Chenda Sophea highlighted the strong bilateral ties between Cambodia and Singapore since the 1990s as well as the increase in cooperation in trade, investment and tourism in recent years. Bilateral trade between both countries was S$4.47 billion in 2017 and Cambodia was one of Singapore’s top 30 trading partners that year.

Growing at an average rate of 7 per cent in the last decade, Cambodia is considered one of the world’s fastest growing economies. This is largely due to the expansion in sectors like garment manufacturing, real estate, construction, agriculture and tourism. 

H.E. Sok Chenda Sophea echoed this in his presentation, singling out the tourism and hospitality sector where there are new opportunities for Singapore to develop the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry, with upcoming convention venues and mid-scale hotels in the Phnom Penh and Siem Reap city centers.

Besides outlining several key reforms and updates to Cambodia’s Investment and Special Economic Zones Laws which would provide stronger government support and incentives, and regulatory certainty to foreign investors, the Dialogue also featured presentations from the Cambodia Airport, Bred Bank, Eurocham, DFDL Cambodia and more.

SBF CEO, Mr Ho Meng Kit said, “In our recent SBF National Business Survey 2019/20, close to 20 per cent of our businesses indicated Cambodia as a country they want to expand into. Moving forward, SBF will work to establish more platforms for our businesses to internationalize, particularly in ASEAN which remains a key region of interest due its relatively high growth rate.”

“It is, in fact, an opportune time for companies to venture into ASEAN as there has been a recent shift in supply chains to the region. Therefore, we urge companies to seize this development to their advantage,” he concluded.