Feb 15, 2013

ASEAN - Cambodia seen as “best” investment for Thailand

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Cambodia is considered “the most promising country” in the ASEAN community where Thai business entrepreneurs could set up trade and investment projects, according to a noted Thai academic and economist.

Roongrote Benjamasuthin, director of the University of Thai Chamber of Commerce’s ASEAN Business & Economic Center, has said that Thais transnational conglomerates and small- and medium-sized entrepreneurs now look on Cambodia as “the most promising” site for their projects and could help usher in the birth of an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by Y 2015.

The economist said that a wide range of business opportunities are open to Thai businessmen only if they have enough venture capital at their disposal.

“We should take advantage of the geographical proximity between Thailand and Cambodia while the Thai government has planned to build and expand roads and railways to link the two neighboring countries.Part of these infrastructure would be serviceable when the AEC finally takes off in the next few years,” Roongrote said.

Though a variety of businesses are already being run by the Thais inside Cambodia, others were advised to follow suit and take advantage of the country with a population of 15 million, according to Roongrote.

According to Roongrote, Thai products, ranging from consumer items such as soap, toothpaste and shampoo, clothes, shoes and electrical appliances, have firmly secured the Cambodian market in addition to Thai fresh fruits and instant foods.

The economist advised Thai investors to look for Cambodian business partners so that they could get things done more easily and promptly.

“The Thai brand names of varied products have remained preferable to the Cambodians who have not had manufacturing factories of their own as yet. The Thais could continue to transport the goods from Thailand to Cambodia to penetrate new markets and expand the existing ones until the AEC opens in Y 2015,” Roongrote said.

Thai investors could also open garment factories and rice mills, among other industries, in the neighboring country, he said.

One advantage of doing business in Cambodia, Roongrote said, is its cheap labor. Cambodia’s daily wage of 200 baht, US$6.6, is considerably lower than the 300 baht, US$10, in Thailand.

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has announced that Thailand would help the Cambodian government headed by Prime Minister Hun Sen in expanding its road and railway network inside the Indochinese country to help push the inter-connectivity scheme within the ASEAN bloc.

Unresolved disputes over strips of land along the shared border notwithstanding, Bangkok has offered to co-invest with Phnom Penh in the exploring and producing of oil and natural gas in Cambodian maritime territory in the Gulf of Thailand.

The Yingluck government has also urged the Thai private sector to invest in infrastructure and manufacturing projects inside Myanmar, now that it has reopened its door to the world community following decades of self-isolation under military rule.

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