ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Malaysian trade agreement inked at Phnom Penh business forum
Cambodia and Malaysia took strides yesterday to enhance bilateral trade and investment, holding a business forum in Phnom Penh and inking a cooperation agreement aimed cementing existing ties – and forging new ones.
At a business seminar attended by government and private sector representatives from both countries, the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), Malaysia’s national trade promotion agency. The agreement covers areas of cooperation, such as information exchange, trade promotion activities, business missions, experience sharing, and capacity building between the two countries.
CCC president Kith Meng said both sides have agreed to work together to support their business communities for mutual benefit, and would benefit from business seminars and networking events.
“This is an opportune time to renew contracts and discuss problems of mutual interest toward enhanced cooperation and to explore potential business partners,” he said at the opening of the event’s business matchmaking session.
Citing government figures, Meng said bilateral trade between Cambodia and Malaysia topped $388 million last year, with Cambodian exports amounting to $152.6 million while imports totalled $235.4 million.
Malaysia is one of the top investors in Cambodia, and a cornerstone investor in its financial sector, he said, adding that Malaysia provided $608 million in FDI to Cambodia in 2014.
“I would like to encourage Malaysian investors to invest more in Cambodia as a production base to export your products throughout the region and to worldwide markets,” Meng said, adding that products manufactured in Cambodia benefit from duty-free access to the EU, US, Canadian and Chinese markets.
Dzulkifli Mahmud, CEO of MATRADE, said the MoU would pave the way for more investment and Malaysian companies were already looking into a number of sectors.
“There is a potential market for us, and we are looking into garments, banking, construction, logistics and other services,” he said.
Mustapa Mohamed, Malaysia’s Minister of International Trade and Industry, said one of the biggest opportunities for expanding trade and investment was in the halal business segment. He said Muslim-majority Malaysia was a major producer of halal food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, and companies were seeking new markets for their products.
Mohamed said both countries are working to build linkages between their microenterprises (MSMEs). In Malaysia, these tiny businesses represent 77 per cent of all business enterprises, while in Cambodia they account for over 98 per cent, he noted.
Hun Lak, managing director of agricultural company Mekong Oryza Trading, who attended the MoU signing, said Cambodia’s prospect as an investment destination was continually improving.
“As result of our political and economic stability, and the convenience of administrative procedures, we are able to attract investors to Cambodia,” he said. “And we still have a lot of areas for potential investment.”
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Indonesia to launch 13th economic package this month
Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution said on Wednesday that the government would release its 13th economic policy package in August, adding that the draft had been completed.
Darmin said the 13th package was largely an extension of the previous one, but would expand its focus beyond industry. The 12th package focused on small and medium enterprises.
"We are just waiting to schedule a meeting with the president," Darmin told reporters at his office. He refused to give the exact date the new policy package would come into effect.
The ministry team must meet with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo one more time to finalize the details, Darmin said.