US seeks more investments in Cambodia

US President Barack Obama (left) poses with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen

US companies are seeking to win large-scale infrastructure projects in Cambodia in an effort to compete with Chi­nese influence in the country, US officials said on January 17 in Phnom Penh, according to the Cambodia Daily.

The plans include projects such as roads and hydro­ power dams in the country. Hong-Phong Pho, officer for Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos within the US Department of Commerce, said that American firms could also be involved in projects such as power plants and that one un­named US company was also interested in building a new airport in Cambodia.

He added that US government agencies, including the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the US Overseas Private Invest­ment Corporation and the US Trade and Development Agen­cy were ready to help develop infrastructure in the region.

While a few US companies such as Ford and Dairy Queen are already present in Cambodia, others have not been granted any of the country’s larger projects in the in­frastructure and energy sectors. Currently, Chinese companies dominate Cambo­dia’s infrastructure sector and are building roads, bridges and hydro­ power dams, with Chinese banks also providing funding.

However, US companies remain the fifth-most invested in Cambodia with more than $1.2 billion in investments over the last decade. Cambodian exports to the US for the first 11 months of 2012 reached $2.49 billion, a 1 per cent increase year-on-year. Its imports of US goods grew 26 per cent for that period, reaching $213 million.