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Cambodia Draws Asian Investors: Analyst

Cambodia has so far been unable to court long-term investors from the West and is instead looking toward Asia and neighboring countries, a leading economist said Monday.

“It seems we have not attracted big, developed countries, such as Japan, the US and the EU,” said Chan Sophal, president of the Cambodian Economic Association. “They may not have clear confidence in putting capital in for long-term investment.”

China, South Korea and Vietnam have shown more trust, he said. “In Vietnam, there is a imilar situation—climate, land, labor management—so they are confident that if they can do it in Vietnam, they can do it in our country,” he said.

Cambodia and Vietnam signed $6 billion in agreements and contracts at an investment conference in Ho Chi Minh City this weekend, in deals covering power generation, food processing, fertilizer production, rubber plantations and bauxite mining.

Vietnam has invested in more than 60 projects in Cambodia, spending nearly $1 million, and is the nation’s top agricultural investor. Trade between the two has also increased in recent years, reaching $1.7 billion in 2008, a 40 percent increase from the year before.

Investment in rubber plantations has increased rapidly, mostly along the border, where the government grants forestry concessions good for 99 years. The concessions have led to a number of clashes between companies and villagers who say they need to land for their livelihoods.