Singapore biz bullish on Cambodia growth prospects

Many international organisations, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank, have projected good GDP growth for Cambodia in 2022 and the years ahead. The growth predictions are based on the revival in the country’s prospects following the resumption of socio-economic activities after the government effectively controlled the Covid-19 pandemic. Some businesses have recovered fast while others have been catching up, renewing hopes of robust growth. Experts pointed out that the free trade agreements with China and the RCEP are set to enhance the trade potential of the country further.

Recently a group of Singapore business people expressed hope that the business environment has been changing positively in the Kingdom.

With the easing of Covid-19 measures, more sky bars, pubs and other F&B outlets in Phnom Penh seem to be roaring back with a vengeance, including newly established ones. Is this a sign that economic activities are resuming to pre-Covid days? It may be too early to tell, with inflationary pressures and disruptions in logistic and supply chains yet to find a landing. Still, if the number of visiting business delegations to the Kingdom and business networking events around the town is any indication, it is an encouraging sign, a press release, quoting the opinion of business leaders, pointed out.

Edward Lee, CEO of Prince Real Estate, who has been in Cambodia for seven months, noted that there had been a flurry of commercial activities, notably the number of international businessmen and delegations that have visited the Kingdom in the past few months. “In the post-Covid recovery, there is a window of opportunity for Cambodia to showcase itself to the world, especially businesses from Singapore,” Lee said in the release.

Edward is one of the growing numbers of Singaporean executives who have taken up work assignments in Cambodia. However, he noted that more should be done to capitalise on these opportunities, similar to what established chambers such as MBCC, AmCham and JBAC have been doing for their business communities. “The common feedback from many Singapore SMEs visiting Cambodia is that there isn’t a business focus platform for them to network with or to seek market information other than a social club and other foreign chambers. They don’t like Hobson’s choice; they want credible alternative choices to work with.”

A seasoned banker who returned to Cambodia this year, Cynthia Liaw, current CEO of Panda Commercial Bank and former CEO of Maybank Cambodia, noted that Singaporeans in Cambodia can do more. “All of us here work in different industries and we are connected to different local and international communities. We can better leverage each other’s connections, perhaps even form an informal business grouping based on collective interests, and synergize our efforts and networks to bring more business and investment opportunities to not only Cambodia but to fellow Singaporean companies here in Cambodia.”

Kelvin Chua, CEO of Singbuild Construction, who has spent his past eight years in Cambodia, is eager to see more being done on the business and investment front for international businesses and investors, particularly those of his own countrymen or those incorporated in the little red dot under the Singapore flag. “The Singapore brand has always had a good reputation in Cambodia. I believe that the right people with a shared common purpose and commitment to do so inclusively and unselfishly will help fellow Singaporean businesses in this growing market to reach out to more contacts and allow them to scale their business to greater heights.” Kelvin, who remains bullish on the growth potential and political stability of the Kingdom, pointed out in
the release.