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Indian investors urged to view Cambodia as ASEAN launchpad

Cambodian officials and Indian ambassador Devyani Khobragade (right) discuss investment business opportunities during the Indian-Cambodia Tech Forum on August 24.
Cambodian officials and Indian ambassador Devyani Khobragade (right) discuss investment business opportunities during the Indian-Cambodia Tech Forum on August 24. Heng Chivoan

Indian investors urged to view Cambodia as ASEAN launchpad

The Indian ambassador to Cambodia has urged Indian investors to seize business opportunities in Cambodia amid a number of key free trade agreements and initiatives which are being worked on by the leaders of two countries.

Speaking at a Cambodia-India business forum Cambodia-India on August 24, Devyani Khobragade said both nations have enjoyed excellent political relations which has given rise to economic and commercial growth.

She explained that India’s focus in Cambodia has been on 3Cs, which are connectivity, commerce and culture, as well as trade, investment and commerce.

“I urge you to look at business-to-business relations very seriously and take advantage of the political relationship between the two countries. Please note that the governments of Cambodia and India are backing you. You have a very safe and stable political and strategic environment to operate your business,” she said.

There are multiple initiatives both governments have been working on to boost the political and trade relation.

One of them is the ongoing negotiations of a bilateral investment treaty, which is at a “final stage that will provide an impetus for investments from both sides”, Devyani said.

“Both sides are also considering a preferential trade agreement to further boost and diversify trade between our countries. I would like to add that we already have the ASEAN-India Free Trade Agreement that provides Indian companies a very suitable environment to export and promote the export from Cambodia to the rest of ASEAN,” she added.

Further, she shared, “I always ask our business colleagues not to look at Cambodia as a country with a 17 million population, but look at Cambodia as your stable and friendly gateway to ASEAN.”

In addition, Devyani said the Indian embassy has been actively working to set up a India-Cambodia Joint Business Council. “We hope to have this council in India this year.”

Ashwini Kumar Rath, CEO of Batoi Systems Pvt Ltd, said in the context of India, Cambodia is an important partner as both have been expanding their cooperation in institutional capacity-building, human resource development and financial resource assistance.

“We believe that Cambodia’s growing economy and manufacturing capability will increase value to the Indian market. As we know India has made a significant stride in the digital [sphere] and one area that I would encourage our businesses to explore is how we position our products to link the economy to others in the region and the global economy,” said Ashwini, who led the Indian delegation.

At the forum, Son Senghuot, secretary of state of the Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation of Cambodia said the government has been focusing on maintaining economic growth and sustainable development since the pandemic.

“Based on the scenario, the government has placed small and medium enterprises as a priority sector, which has a great potential to restore the economy,” he said.

Cambodian exports to India rose 64.2 per cent to $91.5 million in the first four months of 2023 from $55.7 million a year ago, the General Department of Customs and Excise reported.

India is Cambodia’s 18th biggest trading partner for the period, representing 1.1 per cent, 1.3 per cent and 0.9 per cent of the Kingdom’s international trade ($15.2 billion), exports ($7.2 billion) and imports ($7.9 billion), respectively.

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