US investors question rule of law in Cambodia

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Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attending the US-ASEAN Business Forum in Siem Reap, Cambodia

At the US-ASEAN Business Forum held on July 13 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, home of the Angkor Wat temple, local businesses had to woo US investors with more than just symbolic archeological sites.

The delegation of about 100 US business investors traveling with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the forum questioned the lack of law enforcement that persistently plagues the country, analysts say.

The current Cambodian business environment is defined by contracts that become easily subject to subterfuge and opaque movements of money, problems that will have to be rectified if the country is to attract investors.

Regulatory policy currently does little to sew business sectors together as it remains inconsistent and susceptible to the whims of unsupportive political discourse.

A major reason why construction and IT investors felt confident enough to move into neigbouring Vietnam – a communist nation not known for its ease of doing business – is its economic stability and relatively improved rule of law, said Sok Touch, dean of Khemarak University in Phnom Penh, reported Voice of America.

Cambodia’s economy is projected to move ahead by about 6.5 per cent this year, while per capita income has increased to nearly $1,000 per year. Investors see the country of 14 million people as having a potential to become a strategic location for low-cost labour with easy access to dynamic economies in the region, including the about 600-million ASEAN bloc of which Cambodia is a part of.

To date, unsustainable short-term investments from China in the mining sector have been among the most significant business ventures.

Also present at the forum was Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her delegates, invited as Clinton’s guests. Shinawatra is said to have held high-level bilateral discussions with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers.

At the sidelines of the forum, Clinton carried out landmark talks with Myanmar President Thein Sein, recognising the emergent nation’s achievements with reforms on the heels of a green light given to US businesses planning to invest in the country last Wednesday.

Some critics fear that the US may be dropping sanctions too soon as tensions remain ripe on countries peripheries threatening to destabilise the nation with centrifugal force.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attending the US-ASEAN Business Forum in Siem Reap, Cambodia

At the US-ASEAN Business Forum held on July 13 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, home of the Angkor Wat temple, local businesses had to woo US investors with more than just symbolic archeological sites.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Thailand’s Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attending the US-ASEAN Business Forum in Siem Reap, Cambodia

At the US-ASEAN Business Forum held on July 13 in Siem Reap, Cambodia, home of the Angkor Wat temple, local businesses had to woo US investors with more than just symbolic archeological sites.

The delegation of about 100 US business investors traveling with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the forum questioned the lack of law enforcement that persistently plagues the country, analysts say.

The current Cambodian business environment is defined by contracts that become easily subject to subterfuge and opaque movements of money, problems that will have to be rectified if the country is to attract investors.

Regulatory policy currently does little to sew business sectors together as it remains inconsistent and susceptible to the whims of unsupportive political discourse.

A major reason why construction and IT investors felt confident enough to move into neigbouring Vietnam – a communist nation not known for its ease of doing business – is its economic stability and relatively improved rule of law, said Sok Touch, dean of Khemarak University in Phnom Penh, reported Voice of America.

Cambodia’s economy is projected to move ahead by about 6.5 per cent this year, while per capita income has increased to nearly $1,000 per year. Investors see the country of 14 million people as having a potential to become a strategic location for low-cost labour with easy access to dynamic economies in the region, including the about 600-million ASEAN bloc of which Cambodia is a part of.

To date, unsustainable short-term investments from China in the mining sector have been among the most significant business ventures.

Also present at the forum was Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her delegates, invited as Clinton’s guests. Shinawatra is said to have held high-level bilateral discussions with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers.

At the sidelines of the forum, Clinton carried out landmark talks with Myanmar President Thein Sein, recognising the emergent nation’s achievements with reforms on the heels of a green light given to US businesses planning to invest in the country last Wednesday.

Some critics fear that the US may be dropping sanctions too soon as tensions remain ripe on countries peripheries threatening to destabilise the nation with centrifugal force.

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