Source: US-ASEAN Business Council, Cambodia Update | March 8, 2019
Author: Jack Myint


Looking Ahead

Digital Cambodia 2019: March 15-17

This event is a first of its kind ICT Expo, organized by U.S. Embassy, Phnom Penh to showcase Cambodia’s digital transformation.  It will be the biggest tech event in Cambodia this year, and will attract local, regional and international tech companies, experts, and government leaders.  Companies and organizations can participate in Digital Cambodia either by having a representative participate on a panel or give a keynote address, or by reserving a booth to exhibit products and services at the Exhibition. Please contact the Embassy’s Economic Officer Cory Spiller at SpillerCS@state.gov with any additional questions about the event.



Cambodia Faces Economic Uncertainty Under Growing Threat of Western Sanctions

In February, both the European Union (EU) and the United States Congress moved closer to stripping Cambodia of preferential trade privileges in response to alleged human rights violations and an erosion of democracy surrounding the country’s general election in late July 2018. However, despite this growing pressure from the West, the Cambodia Government‘s still largely sees the U.S. and EU demands as foreign interference in Cambodia’s domestic affairs. Prime Minister Hun Sen has repeatedly said that he will not “exchange national sovereignty with aid” and doesn’t show signs of political compromise, particularly in reinstating the country’s former main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party, and its leaders. The prevailing political and economic trend within Cambodia also indicates a steadily growing Chinese influence that signals the capacity and desire of Beijing to bankroll the Cambodian economy and ensure that the current government remains in place.

On February 11, the European Union (EU) started an 18-month process that could lead to the temporary suspension of Cambodia’s duty-free trade access through the Everything But Arms (EBA) regime, citing “serious human rights violations as well as a deterioration of democracy.” The process, led by the European Commission on Trade, will entail a six-month fact-finding mission that will include an assessment of the resultant socio-economic impacts, monitoring of labor conditions, and discussions with Cambodian authorities, followed by another half-year period for the Commission to produce a report, which will make the recommendation on whether to withdraw the trade preferences. The official press release on the EU’s announcement can be found here.

Following the EU’s announcement, the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce initiated a mitigation plan, should the EU decide to withdraw EBA privileges. According to Cambodian Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak, revoking the EBA regime would hurt the Cambodian economy and result in mass layoffs in the garment industry, which accounts for 45 percent of Cambodia’s 2018 exports and employs approximately 800,000 people. The EU is Cambodia’s largest trading partner, and garments are a large share of the latter’s exports to the bloc; overall, Cambodia’s garment exports to the EU are worth approximately US$5.43 billion. As part of the mitigation plan, the Ministry of Commerce said that relevant ministries and institutions had made reforms which would help cut the cost of production and transportation, as well as enhance socio-economic conditions for citizens while also promoting Cambodia’s economic independence. The Ministry also announced that it has erased fees for all exports—there is now no requirement for fees and documents to prove the source of products. In addition, CamControl, the Government’s import-export inspection department, was shuttered, resulting in the loss of millions of US dollars in revenue to the Government.

Just over two weeks after the EU’s announcement, U.S. Congressmen Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) and Steve Chabot (R-OH) introduced on February 26 the Cambodia Trade Act (CTA), which urges the Trump Administration to review the preferential trade treatment that Cambodia receives from the United States under the General System of Preferences (GSP) program. The legislation is the U.S. House of Representatives’ counterpart to the Senate’s Bill of the same name (the Council’s take on the Senate’s version of the CTA here). Under the GSP program, Cambodia currently exports more than US$180 million a year in goods, mostly garments, to the United States. If passed in both chambers of Congress, the CTA would be sent to U.S. President Donald Trump to make the decision on whether Cambodia’s GSP privileges should be withdrawn, suspended, or limited. The official press release on the House’s CTA Announcement, please click here.

The move by the EU and the United States to look into doing away with Cambodia’s trade privileges should be very carefully calibrated so as to not push Cambodia to continue deepening its ties and increase its economic dependence on China. Both should also carefully consider how such moves could hurt the day-to-day of average Cambodian citizens who rely on the continuation of these trade preferences to make a living. Currently, the Cambodian populace hold the United States and its values, products, and culture in fairly high regard, but it is worth considering what the impact of removing trade privileges for the country’s vital garment sector would be, given the potential of hurting the financial well-being of millions of ordinary Cambodian workers and their families.


Regional Affairs
Thai-Cambodia partnership event to boost border trade
Vietnam, Cambodia more serious in building strong bilateral ties
Cambodia, Laos discuss relations
No-deal Brexit could sink much of Asia

National Affairs
Prak Sokhonn slams EU over EBA’s review
Hun Sen Gives Former Opposition Officials Royal Pardon Ultimatum
Viewing Cambodia’s political development from the inside out
Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen Defends Embrace of China Amid Concerns of ‘Occupation’
Cambodian PM says there’s no threat of Chinese domination
Commerce Ministry Slams US Congressmen Over Trade Sanctions Bill
US Congressmen Introduce Cambodia Trade Sanctions Bill
In Cambodia, agile policymaking drives budget reform
Cambodia Put Back on Global Money-Laundering Watch List

Cambodia PM blasts ‘interference’ as EU trade deal threatens
Camcontrol removed from borders
Container fee to fall

Defense & Security
Cambodia, Singapore enhance cooperation in combating terrorism, transnational crime 
US, Cambodia ties fade from dark to black
Thai-Khmer border guards in standoff weekend

EU begins process to hit Cambodia with trade sanctions
Casino junkets increasingly opening shop in Cambodia
Cambodia’s Investment Outlook for 2019
Uncertainty and Pressure: Cambodia Under the Weight of Sanctions
US Lawmakers in Threat to Review Cambodia Trade Privileges Over Hun Sen’s Crackdown
Cambodia economy: High growth expected to continue
Brexit and EU sanctions threaten to push Cambodia into economic crisis

Royal Group to move forward with energy project
Floating Solar Farm Completed in Cambodia – Solar Novus Today
Onsite solar to power Cambodia cement factory
Cambodia Invites Bids for a 60 MW Solar Project
Cambodia’s 100 MW National Solar Park project moves forward

Financial Services
Local businesses embrace fintech
BoT signs QR pact with Cambodia

Food & Agriculture
Kingdom sees minimal change in rice exports between 2016-2018
Gripped By Drought, Cambodian Farmers Struggle Against Changing Climate
ADB project to bolster agriculture industry
Cassava farmers rejoice as going organic pays off
Bolstering the agriculture industry: Q&A with chemical firm BASF
US soybean growers build trade with Cambodia
Cambodia’s agriculture sector urged to source own raw materials

Cambodia Telecommunications Market 2019-2025
US, top firms urge Cambodia to join aviation convention
Barriers remain to Cambodia’s rush to a digital economy
Kingdom’s satellite project still under study

Sihanoukville highway work to begin
Dragon City / The man behind Cambodia’s most ambitious development project
Three Cambodian cities chosen for Asean urban planning scheme


Regional AffairsThai-Cambodia partnership event to boost border trade Phnom Penh Post 5th Mar 2019
THE Thai Department of Foreign Trade (DFT) will host a Thai-Cambodia economic partnership event in which the governments of both countries and the private sector have been invited to trade and offer investment promotion and solutions. The event will also feature a business matching activity for four sectors, which expects to result in immediate trade worth over 30 million baht ($947,507), and a talk offering tips on how to enter the Cambodian market.

Vietnam, Cambodia more serious in building strong bilateral ties Khmer Times 1st Mar 2019
Vietnam’s President Nguyen Phu Trong concluded an official state visit to Cambodia on Tuesday. His visit to Cambodia this time signifies an important milestone in bilateral relations with both Vietnam and Cambodia showing strong commitment to build amicable and peaceful ties. Thearith Leng comments. Nguyen Phu Trong, President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and General-Secretary of the Communist Party, paid an official state visit to Cambodia on February 25-26, in a move to further enhance bilateral relations with Cambodia.

Cambodia, Laos discuss relations Phnom Penh Post 25th Feb 2019
Developing relations between Cambodia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) and matters of common interest were discussed during a meeting between the two countries’ foreign ministers in Vientiane last week. Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn led a delegation to Vientiane, where he and his Lao counterpart, Saleumxay Kommasith, co-chaired the 13th meeting of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) between Cambodia and the Lao PDR on Thursday and Friday. They also held a meeting to “discuss various aspects of bilateral cooperation with the aim to expand the scope and depth of bilateral cooperation in all potential areas”. Efforts to prevent transnational crimes by both countries’ armed forces were among matters discussed in the meeting.

No-deal Brexit could sink much of Asia Asia Times 11th Feb 2019
As the United Kingdom (UK) heads towards a possible “no deal” Brexit, the uncertainty surrounding the terms of the UK’s imminent departure from the European Union (EU) is making waves as far away as Southeast Asia. The German Development Institute, a think tank, recently estimated in a report that Cambodia could be one of the world’s biggest losers in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit. As many as 1.7 million people living in developing nations could descend into “extreme poverty” in the event, the think tank claimed.

National AffairsPrak Sokhonn slams EU over EBA’s review Khmer Times 5th Mar 2019
Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, speaking to Cambodia’s ambassadors, permanent representatives and consuls general in an annual conference at ministry’s office in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn has lashed out at the European Union for applying a double standard with Cambodia over a review of Every Thing but arms preferential status, saying that they failed to act against Laos and Myanmar. Speaking to dozens of Cambodia’s ambassadors, permanent representatives and consuls general in an annual conference at ministry office in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, Mr Sokhonn said that the EU acted improperly against the Kingdom.

Hun Sen Gives Former Opposition Officials Royal Pardon Ultimatum VOA 5th Mar 2019
Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday said that opposition officials who were banned from politics ahead of last year’s election have one month to seek a royal pardon. Some 118 former Cambodia National Rescue Party officials were banned from political activities for five years in a Supreme Court ruling in November 2017 and the party dissolved over allegations of conspiring with a foreign power to overthrow Hun Sen. The CNRP denies all of the allegations. Speaking at the opening of a Japan-funded flood defense system this week, Hun Sen said that “the door will be closed” to the former CNRP officials to accept his offer to resume political life in exchange for an admission of guilt and an apology by the end of Khmer New Year.

Viewing Cambodia’s political development from the inside out Khmer Times 4th Mar 2019
Cambodia’s democracy should be viewed as still in the elementary school level if compared to other advanced and established democracies as discussed by Soun Nimeth , which appeared in Myanmar Times. He argued that viewing it from the nation-building perspective, Cambodia is among the top scorers. Its political development comprises three elements in tandem namely peace, strong economic growth and a certain level of democratisation, which is currently a rare case in the region. Calling the 2018 election a “sham election” is rather a misplaced argument. Out of the 8.3 million registered voters, 83 percent went to vote, which is relatively high if compared to other countries with a non-compulsory electoral system. For instance, the Philippines had 60.6 percent in 2013, India 58.19 percent in 2009, the US 41.59 percent in 2010 and 55.7 percent in 2016, and Japan 53.68 percent in 2017.

Cambodia’s PM Hun Sen Defends Embrace of China Amid Concerns of ‘Occupation’ Radio Free Asia 1st Mar 2019
Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday dismissed concerns that increased investment and aid from China would result in the “occupation” of his country by the Asian power, as observers urged him to balance Beijing’s influence by nurturing relations with other nations. Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony for a U.S. $50 million Chinese-funded hospital in Tboung Khmum province, Hun Sen said he “understands China very well,” and that the country’s ruling Communist Party has no intention of “taking over other nations.” Cambodia will not allow any other country to interfere in its internal affairs, the long-ruling strongman also told those in attendance.

Cambodian PM says there’s no threat of Chinese domination Washington Post 1st Mar 2019
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday defended his country’s close ties with Beijing, declaring that a surge of mainland visitors and investment does not put Cambodia at risk of becoming a kind of Chinese colony. Chinese investors only want to do business and China’s foreign policy seeks friendship, with no desire to occupy Cambodia, Hun Sen said at a groundbreaking ceremony for a Chinese-funded hospital in the eastern province of Tboung Khmum. Chinese investors in Cambodia have attracted criticism in recent years as their influence in the country grows. Cambodia has become increasingly reliant on Chinese aid and investment, and at the same time has become a close political ally of Beijing, supporting its positions in regional and international affairs.

Commerce Ministry Slams US Congressmen Over Trade Sanctions Bill The Cambodia Daily1st Mar 2019
A senior commerce ministry official has called on the United States to carefully consider the consequences of imposing trade sanctions on Cambodia over its human rights record. Two US congressmen, Alan Lowenthal, and Steve Chabot, this week filed a bill that proposes the US government consider removing Cambodia from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a preferential trade scheme. Seang Thay, a commerce spokesman, said on Wednesday that the US should not rush to judgment and first look at “the happy faces” of garment workers.

US Congressmen Introduce Cambodia Trade Sanctions Bill VOA 27th Feb 2019
Two US congressmen have introduced a bipartisan bill to review Cambodia’s preferential trade treatment over the country’s human rights record. Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) and Steve Chabot (R-OH) introduced the Cambodia Trade Act, which would require the US government to review Cambodia’s status under the Generalized System of Preferences, which grants the country exemptions and reductions in tariffs. The legislation would allow the US to withdraw, suspend or limit trade privileges Cambodia enjoys.

In Cambodia, agile policymaking drives budget reform GovInsider 26th Feb 2019
Cambodia is in a state of flux. From textiles to tourism, the economy is growing fast. There is an emerging middle class and a burgeoning startup scene. The government is making progress in financial inclusion for rural unbanked. But while the country possesses an ample supply of labour, the fact remains that the workforce is lacking in education and skills, according to a 2018 report by the Asian Development Bank. Cambodia is at a “critical juncture” as it moves from an agricultural-based to industrial-based economy, says Chea Kok Hong, Director of Macroeconomic and Fiscal Policy at the Ministry of Economy and Finance. But “certain types of skills are mismatched with the market”, he tells GovInsider.

Cambodia Put Back on Global Money-Laundering Watch List Radio Free Asia 22nd Feb 2019
Cambodia was put on a money-laundering watch list by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Friday after the watchdog group found “significant deficiencies” that left the country vulnerable to flows of hidden illegal money. The Paris-based FATF, an inter-governmental organization that fights money laundering and terrorist financing, placed Cambodia back on the gray list of “jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies” after removing the country in 2015. FATF president Marshall Billingslea said Cambodia had “significant deficiencies,” Reuters reported from Jakarta, where the list was unveiled.

CustomsCambodia PM blasts ‘interference’ as EU trade deal threatens Channel NewsAsia 12th Feb 2019
Cambodian premier Hun Sen warned against interference in the country’s affairs on Tuesday (Feb 12), his first comments since the European Union launched steps to cancel trade benefits that would hammer the local garment industry. The bloc announced Monday it would begin a process of intensive monitoring to decide whether to suspend duty-free preferences under the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) deal. The move would deal a crippling blow to Cambodia’s robust garment and footwear industry, which exports more than US$4 billion worth of products to the bloc.

Camcontrol removed from borders Khmer Times 3rd Feb 2019
In a move to facilitate trade and reduce costs for businesses, the Ministry of Commerce on Friday issued a sub-decree that puts an end to the presence of Camcontrol in border checkpoints. Sub-decree 27, signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Jan 29, officially ends the role of the Cambodia Import-Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate General at the country’s border crossings. “The government has decided to terminate the role of Camcontrol from all border checkpoints, seaports, special economic zones, and other export and import inspection zones in Cambodia,” the regulation says. The General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) becomes the only institution authorised to carry out inspections of goods at border gates, seaports, and special economic zones, according to the sub-decree.

Container fee to fall Khmer Times 1st Feb 2019
The fee for inspection of export and import containers via scanning system per container will be reduced as of April 1.  This was announced in an official letter, dated Jan. 29, to the Director General of the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia. The aforementioned letter (Number 568) was signed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, Aun Pornmoniroth. It declares that said fee will drop from $32 (128,000 riel) to $16 for containers over 40 feet (12 metres), and from $20 (80.000 riel) to $10 for containers under 40 feet. The Finance Minister letter wrote:  “I would like to inform … the Royal Government that … [this measure will] improve trade facilitation, strengthen the competitiveness of Cambodia, help support the garment industry, and reduce the burden of business people in exporting and importing goods loaded in containers. “This reduction of the fee on inspection by scanner per container unit will take effect from 01, April 2019 until there is a new instruction.  In this regard, please, H.E Delegate of the Royal Government, disseminate and implement it in a highly effective manner.”

Defense & SecurityCambodia, Singapore enhance cooperation in combating terrorism, transnational crimeXinhua 4th Mar 2019
Cambodia and Singapore vowed on Monday to enhance their cooperation in combating terrorism and cross-border crime, said a Cambodian spokesman. The commitment was made during a meeting here between Cambodian National Police chief Neth Savoeun and visiting Singapore commissioner of police Hoong Wee Teck, said National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun. “After their talks, both sides agreed to work together to combat terrorism and transnational crime, which are the priority tasks for the two countries as well as for Asia,” he told reporters after the meeting.

US, Cambodia ties fade from dark to black Asia Times 15th Feb 2019
“It’s always darkest before it turns pitch black,” the late American senator and Vietnam War veteran John McCain was fond of saying, employing a slight twist on the cliché its “darkest before the dawn.” The statesman’s turn of phrase could be used to characterize the current dark state of US-Cambodia relations, which arguably have not been this dim since America’s secret bombing campaign of the country during the Vietnam War. But while Washington has imposed limited sanctions and cut aid to Cambodia for its democratic backsliding since late 2017, US policymakers are still seeking strategic ways to ensure that the lights don’t go permanently out on the relationship, including by reviving moribund military ties.

Thai-Khmer border guards in standoff weekend The Nation 18th Feb 2019
The dispute, at the border between Banteay Meanchey province’s Svay Chek district and Sa Kaeo province’s Khok Sung district in Thailand, settled down after compromises were made by both sides, the National Police General Commissariat said on its website on Sunday. It said 29 Thai police officials from Border Unit 126 tried to use a tractor to remove the cassava that had been planted by two Cambodian families. The Thai police said Cambodian farmers are growing cassava in areas that have not been clearly determined, but 15 Cambodian police officials from Border Units 911 and 503 prevented the Thai authorities from clearing the farmland. The National Police said the confrontation quietened down after negotiations, with the farmers agreeing to remove the cassava within one week. The conflict first occurred after the Thai authorities asked the farmers to move the cassava plantation about 150m, so it was at least 550m from a dirt road built by the Thai army. The farmers only agreed to move 50m.

EconomicsEU begins process to hit Cambodia with trade sanctions Reuters 5th Mar 2019
The European Union started an 18-month process on Monday that could lead to the suspension of Cambodia’s duty-free trade access over its record on human rights and democracy. The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28-member EU, said that its decision to start the process would be published in the EU official journal on Feb. 12, triggering a countdown that could run until August 2020. Cambodia benefits from the EU’s “Everything but Arms” (EBA) trade regime, which allows the world’s poorest countries to sell any goods, except weapons, tariff-free into the bloc.

Casino junkets increasingly opening shop in Cambodia Phnom Penh Post 5th Mar 2019
Cambodia is becoming an attractive destination for Macanese junket casino operators to set up shop, as the market is currently rapidly growing while the junket market in Macau is shrinking, according to Morgan Stanley Asia Ltd analysts. Praveen Choudhary and Jeremy An of Morgan Stanley Asia visited Macau last month and issued a memo that revealed that the junket operations that they saw were doing better abroad than locally.

Cambodia’s Investment Outlook for 2019 The Cambodia Daily 5th Mar 2019
Located between Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia is an attractive investment destination for businesses looking to expand in ASEAN. The country has recovered from a troubled and violent 20th century past and aims to now secure a place on the global economic playing field. With a steady economic growth of around 7 percent in recent years, which is forecasted to continue in 2019, Cambodia is on a steady path of economic improvement. The growth rate is the highest amongst the fast-growing ASEAN nations. However large-scale reforms are needed to support this growth and to make the country competitive on a global level.

Uncertainty and Pressure: Cambodia Under the Weight of Sanctions The Diplomat 5th Mar 2019
Cambodia’s economic growth trajectory is facing uncertainty and challenges amid mounting international pressure, in particular the suspension of status under the EU’s Everything-But-Arms arrangement and most recently the United States’ General System of Preferences status. The Cambodian government’s unprecedented crackdown on dissents prior to the 2018 general elections has not gone unnoticed. The international community, the United States and the European Union in particular, have imposed sanctions on Cambodia in attempts to halt what is widely perceived to be the Kingdom’s drift towards autocracy.

US Lawmakers in Threat to Review Cambodia Trade Privileges Over Hun Sen’s CrackdownRadio Free Asia 27th Feb 2019
Citing human rights violations, two U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday that would require the Trump Administration to review the preferential trade terms under which Cambodia exports $180 million of goods to the United States each year. The Cambodia Trade Act (CTA), introduced by Rep. Alan Lowenthal and Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio, would require the government to review Cambodia’s preferential trade status and use the findings to determine whether Cambodia’s trade privileges should be “withdrawn, suspended, or limited,” the lawmakers said in a statement.

Cambodia economy: High growth expected to continue Aljazeera 20th Feb 2019
Cambodia has been one of the best-performing economies in the world over the past two decades, and that’s forecast to continue this year. But there are threats to Cambodia’s growth.

Brexit and EU sanctions threaten to push Cambodia into economic crisis Nikkei Asian Review11th Feb 2019
Cambodia is teetering on the verge of economic crisis, as it faces higher export tariffs into Britain due to Brexit at a time when the European Union is considering suspending duty-free access to punish Prime Minister Hun Sen for political suppression. The first wave of economic damage is expected to become evident by the spring if Phnom Penh loses preferential tariff treatment from the U.K.

EnergyRoyal Group to move forward with energy project Khmer Times 6th Mar 2019
The Royal Group of Cambodia and partners China Southern Power Grid and China Huaneng Group on Tuesday said they will continue work on a project to build high voltage transmission lines in the Kingdom. The project will contribute to the transmission network in the country’s northeast and enable energy exchanges with Vietnam and Laos. A pre-feasibility study was started by the three companies in 2017 but has not concluded yet. Representatives of the company expressed their intention to move forward with the project during a meeting Monday with Ith Praing, secretary of state at the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

Floating Solar Farm Completed in Cambodia – Solar Novus Today Inter Solar 4th Mar 2019
The floating solar farm installed in Cambodia (2.8 MWp) is a world-premiere for several reasons. It is the first to be built out of a new type of float, the Hydrelio Equato, and the first with a 4-in-a-row setup. Further, this installation is also the first of its kind worldwide to have the Hydrelio solution implemented at a cement plant. As an investor, Cleantech Solar pays rigorous attention to optimizing the long-term performance of the systems to maximise the bankability of the project and offtaker’s energy cost savings. Hydrelio by Ciel & Terre was the choice for their needs.

Onsite solar to power Cambodia cement factory PEI 27th Feb 2019
An onsite solar PV system in now operational at the most advanced cement factory in Cambodia. The system comprises a 2.8 MW floating solar power plant deployment on a reservoir owned by Chip Mong Insee Cement Corporation (CMIC), plus 7 MW installed across multiple rooftops of the company’s facility. It has been built by Singapore-headquartered Cleantech Solar and is expected to generate 297 GWh of clean energy for CMIC, substituting some of the large plant’s electricity consumption with solar PV. Cleantech Solar said that the deployment of the floating solar system will also shield the reservoir from wind and the direct hot midday sun, a move which is expected to reduce water loss through evaporation, contributing to CMIC’s water conservation efforts.

Cambodia Invites Bids for a 60 MW Solar Project Mercom India 26th Feb 2019
Electricite du Cambodge (EDC), an electricity utility in Cambodia has invited bids to implement a 60 MW solar project in the country’s Kampong Chhnang province through an international competitive bidding process. The project will be developed on a build own operate (BOO) basis. The solar project is expected to support and boost the construction of solar photovoltaic (PV) power projects in Cambodia to help address the country’s need to expand low-cost power generation and diversify the power generation mix with an increase in the percentage of clean energy. This project is in the initial phase of a 100 MW capacity solar power park, an associated substation and a transmission interconnection system to supply power to the national grid in the region.

Cambodia’s 100 MW National Solar Park project moves forward pv magazine International 12th Feb 2019
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is moving forward with implementation of the 100 MW National Solar Park project in Cambodia, launched in June 2017. The lender has issued an expression of interest to seek project implementation consultants for design and construction of the large-scale solar park, which is expected to be developed in several phases. The ADB said the project is intended to improve the power supply of national utility Electricité du Cambodge (EDC) and bring technical benefits to the grid. The project is also intended to expand low-cost power generation, diversify the generation mix with more clean energy, and extend the use of competitive tenders and other global best practices in Cambodia’s energy sector.

Financial ServicesLocal businesses embrace fintech Khmer Times 10th Feb 2019
It is lunchtime at a coffee shop in Kandal province’s Takhmao city. Customers enjoy a cuppa while chatting effusively with friends. Behind the counter, Sokun Thoeun, the owner, checks their payments on his smartphone. Mr Thoeun and his wife, both in his thirties, have been in the coffee shop business for nearly a year, and, since opening, customers have only increased. Despite never having studied business management or finance, Mr Thoeun, with guidance from bank officials, has already mastered the apps he uses to manage customers’ payments. He says electronic payments are the easiest way for customers to settle their bills at the cafe and for him to pay suppliers and banks. At least 20 percent of payments at his cafe are done by QR code, he says.

BoT signs QR pact with Cambodia Bangkok Post 5th Feb 2019
The Bank of Thailand has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation on a pilot project to develop interoperability of standard QR payment with the National Bank of Cambodia. The agreement is expected to facilitate retail payment services in Cambodia and payment linkages between the two countries, the Bank of Thailand said in a statement. “The MoU aims to enhance the collaboration on financial innovations and payment services to promote more efficient and secure domestic and cross-border payment transactions, as well as to promote the usage of local currencies, said central bank governor Veerathai Santiprabhob after signing the agreement at the annual bilateral meetings between the Bank of Thailand and its counterpart in Cambodia. The meetings are meant to strengthen cooperation between the two central banks, enhancing financial cooperation and promoting sustainable economic growth in Cambodia and Thailand, he said. Finance Minister Apisak Tantivorawong said earlier the Bank of Thailand initiated cross-border fund transfers.

Food & AgricultureKingdom sees minimal change in rice exports between 2016-2018 Phnom Penh Post 7th Mar 2019
The Kingdom’s rice exports saw little change during the last three years to 2018 as the sector appears to face new challenges requiring the government and private sector to work harder to keep the industry healthy. The challenges are centred around the EU market as the bloc imposes tariffs on Cambodia’s rice, added on to existing issues such as higher production costs and a lack of infrastructure. However, industry insiders said the volume of this year’s rice exports will remain steady due to a new quota from China and Vietnam. Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries figures show that the Kingdom exported 626,225 tonnes of rice last year, decreasing 1.5 per cent from 635,679 tonnes in 2017. The figures show that the main destinations were the EU with a total of 269,127 tonnes and China with 170,154 tonnes.

Gripped By Drought, Cambodian Farmers Struggle Against Changing Climate VOA 1st Mar 2019
Trapaing Thmar reservoir, the largest of the Khmer Rouge regime’s irrigation projects built atop the bones of the dead, is running dry amid one of the worst droughts to hit Cambodia in living memory.In northwestern Cambodia, over 400 kilometers from Phnom Penh, the vast protected area serves as a crucially important water store for thousands of rice farmers and their families in Phnom Srok district and other neighboring areas.Trapaing Thmar reservoir also provides a home to a number of endangered species, including the Sarus crane.During a recent visit to the area, farmers were fishing and pumping water to their rice field from small ponds that are all that remains of the more than 12,000-hectare reservoir.In Banteay Meanchey province’s Phnom Srok district, farmers complain that there is a scarcity of rain, both during the wet and dry season.

ADB project to bolster agriculture industry Khmer Times 24th Feb 2019
With most local agricultural exports consisting of raw materials, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is now designing a multimillion project to increase the value of the agriculture industry. With a budget of $70 million – $2.17 million of which will be disbursed as a grant and the rest as a concessional loan – ADB’s Agricultural Value Chain Infrastructure Improvement Project seeks to help the Kingdom climb up regional value chains while increasing the quality of local produce, the development bank said in a report. “This project will enhance the value of agriculture products, reduce the number of middlemen in the sector, expand and strengthen processing and packaging capabilities, build more warehouses and cooling facilities, and improve transportation.

Cassava farmers rejoice as going organic pays off Khmer Times 18th Feb 2019
With the country’s first-ever harvest of organic cassava having recently come to an end, farmers say they are happy with the price the crop is fetching, with some earning as much as $2,350 per hectare. Un Sokun, the leader of an agricultural community in Kampong Thom province, told Khmer Times that cassava farmers in her community are earning more this season after having gone organic. She said farmers in her community are being paid $94 per tonne of high-quality organic cassava, with lower quality organic cassava selling for $89. Non-organic cassava, by contrast, generally fetches just $77 per tonne, she said. Yields of the organic crop have also been satisfactory, she said.

Bolstering the agriculture industry: Q&A with chemical firm BASF Khmer Times 17th Feb 2019
German chemical giant BASF officially launched its operations in the Kingdom last month aiming to tap into opportunities in the local agriculture industry. Starting with rice, the company’s goal is to increase yields and make local agricultural products more competitive in international markets by introducing new technology. Khmer Times’ May Kunmakara sits down with Martin Wolf, BASF’s business director for Asean, to discuss the company’s short and long-term plans in Cambodia as well as the industry’s current situation and outlook.

US soybean growers build trade with Cambodia High Plains Journal 9th Feb 2019
Scientists and leaders from Kansas State University announced the creation of a unique project that brings together soybean growers in the United States and fish farms in Cambodia to build sustainable food and trade networks. The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research and Sustainable Intensification (SIIL) at Kansas State University, in partnership with the American Soybean Association’s World Initiative for Soy in Human Health, officially launched the Commercialization of Aquaculture for Sustainable Trade Cambodia project, which is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture Food for Progress program. CAST was awarded $17.1 million for five years in six key regions, making it possible for Cambodia’s private sector and universities to work closely with U.S. soybean growers and businesses, as well as academic and non-governmental organizations.

Cambodia’s agriculture sector urged to source own raw materials The Cambodia Daily 5th Feb 2019
Agricultural sector insiders said relying on neighbouring markets to source raw materials for Cambodia’s agriculture products is a short-term strategy that needs to be managed. During a discussion last week with Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia Vu Quang Minh, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon asked the country’s help to buy paddy from Cambodian farmers in line with market prices in Vietnam. Following the discussion, Vietnam said it will hold an emergency meeting with relevant businessmen and then submit a detailed report to the Vietnamese Prime Minister to encourage them to buy paddy from Cambodia at a reasonable price.

ICTCambodia Telecommunications Market 2019-2025 Industry Today 7th Mar 2019
The Cambodia Telecommunications report – 8th series provides a complete view of the Cambodia telecom ecosystem along with trends and growth factors shaping the future of the market. The future value proposition for telecommunications market in Cambodia to 2025 is detailed in the report. It also provides imperatives for gaining market share in highly competitive telecom industry. It provides unmatched depth and breadth into drivers, challenges, tariffs, competition, subscriber behaviour, infrastructure, regulatory support and others. The report presents detailed insights into Cambodia mobile communication, fixed telephone and fixed broadband markets. Subscriber count and penetration rates are forecast for each of the sub-sectors including cellular, fixed landline and broadband segments from 2005 to 2018 and 2019 to 2025.

US, top firms urge Cambodia to join aviation convention Khmer Times 24th Feb 2019
The United States says Cambodia should consider becoming a signatory to the Cape Town Convention, an international treaty that experts say will open access to the latest aviation technology and expand the international networks of local airlines. Seeking to tout the benefits of joining the treaty, the US Embassy on Friday held the seminar ‘Aviation and the Cape Town Convention’ in Phnom Penh. he event brought together representatives of global leaders in aviation – including Boeing, General Electric, Sikorsky Aircraft, Aircastle, Rossch, and CFM International – as well Cambodian officials and representative of the local aviation industry.

Barriers remain to Cambodia’s rush to a digital economy AEC News Today 17th Feb 2019
In March 2018, the Cambodian government announced its intention to be ready to transform into a digital economy by 2023. A digital economy is one in which economic processes and activities are based on digital technologies (electronic systems and devices that generate, store or process data). Digitisation of an economy drives innovation, fuels job opportunities and stimulates economic growth. Cambodia’s economy as measured by GDP grew at a rate of 7.3 per cent in 2018, driven primarily by robust expansion in domestic consumption and exports. For 2019 GDP is forecast to grow by 7.1 per cent. Despite this positive outlook, there are internal and external risks that may affect Cambodia’s future growth.

Kingdom’s satellite project still under study Khmer Times 11th Feb 2019
The Telecom Regulator of Cambodia yesterday said that the Kingdom’s plan to launch its first satellite is still being studied after the Defence Ministry denied media reports that it will be sent into space in 2021. TRC spokesman Im Vutha yesterday said that the project has not yet been approved. “Cambodia’s plan to launch our first satellite is still under study and we do not have a time frame to launch it,” he said. He noted that local conglomerate Royal Group and Beijing-based China Great Wall Industry Cooperation are conducting a feasibility study on the launch of the satellite.

InfrastructureSihanoukville highway work to begin Phnom Penh Post 5th Mar 2019
An expressway project from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville was announced to officially begin construction on March 22, according to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport. After several delays, the $1.9 billion expressway – which has been invested in by the Chinese-owned company Cambodian PPSHV Expressway Co Ltd – will take 48 months to be completed. The new highway – with a total distance of 190.3km and a width of 24.5m, and two lanes in either direction – will have a garden in its median and barriers on both sides to protect people and animals passing through.

Dragon City / The man behind Cambodia’s most ambitious development project The Cambodia Daily 5th Mar 2019
Almost a decade ago, Phuoeng Sophean – a Land Ministry official, and an imaginative architect serving as general secretary of the Board of Architects Cambodia – dreamt up the idea of a new capital of momentous proportions that he named “Samdech Techo Hun Sen Dragon City” Last week we looked at Cambodia’s $80 billion construction project known as Dragon City. Here, an in-depth interview with Sophean to discuss making the leap from dream to reality.

Three Cambodian cities chosen for Asean urban planning scheme Khmer Times 27th Feb 2019
Phnom Penh, Battambang, and Siem Reap have been included in the Asean Smart Cities Network, and will benefit from the assistance of the Japanese government in creating technologically advanced urban spaces. The Asean Smart Cities Network (ASCN) is a collaborative platform where cities from Asean member states work towards the common goal of smart and sustainable urban development. The project is supported by the Japanese government. The chosen Cambodian cities will benefit from Japanese investment into modern facilities to improve the lives of their citizens, according to representatives of the Japanese government who yesterday attended the first meeting of the ‘Public-Private Platform for Urban Development between Cambodia and Japan’.