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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        5  February 2011

Financing agriculture in Cambodia

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A leading target for loans this year is Cambodia's agriculture sector.

An improvement in sector outlook has spurred interest, members of the banking community said yesterday. Last year, the government outlined plans to export one million tonnes of milled rice to global markets by 2015.

In Channy, chief executive officer and president of ACLEDA bank, said that after its outstanding loan value rose by 36.82 percent in 2010, the agricultural sector was the bank's main focus.

"We plan to increase loans to the agricultural sector from 12.25 percent of total loan value in 2010 to 15.25 percent. We plan to increase our [total] loans from US$744 million in 2010, to $1 billion this year," he said.

He stated that the agricultural sector was a large sector which many commercial banks had not previously targeted, due to a lack of rural branches. The sector represented 43 percent of loan customers for ACLEDA in 2010.

Rival banks, however, are looking towards agricultural development as a growth market. Dieter Billmeier, vice president of Canadia Bank, saw his bank's total loans rise by 30 percent year-on-year in 2010, led by the agricultural sector.

"Agricultural growth is very strong and will continue at a high level for the next few years. Rice milling facilities and food processing facilities will be factors in loan demand in years to come," he said.

ANZ Bank also highlighted agribusiness as a main target for 2011. "Our focus sectors this year include agribusiness, manufacturing, and wholesale and retail trade. We are also very interested in infrastructure." said Stephen Higgins, chief executive officer of ANZ Royal Bank.

General manager of Foreign Trade Bank Gui Anvanith described agriculture as "the machine of our economy" that would push growth in other sectors.

ANZ, ACLEDA and FTB all ruled out real estate loans as a target sector for 2011.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More

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