Cambodia, a developing country, began the transformation from a command economy to the free market in the late 1980s. It is now integrating into the regional and world trading framework. In 1999, Cambodia joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and in September 2004, became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). On December 15, 2008 the entry into force of the ASEAN Charter brought Cambodia and other member states into a new regional legal framework. Cambodia has shown interest in participating in other international trading arrangements, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).
As part of its WTO commitments to strengthen the investment climate for both foreign and domestic businesses, Cambodia committed to enact 47 laws or regulations to address areas where existing law did not meet WTO requirements. Cambodia has been behind schedule in fulfilling its WTO commitments to pass necessary business legislation concerning the general business environment, trade in goods, trade in services, and the protection of intellectual property rights. However, the country has made progress recently, passing several significant laws in 2008, including a Law on Plant Breeder Rights and Law on Civil Aviation, and in 2009, the government promulgated a Law on Tourism, a Law on Insolvency, and a sub-decree establishing a national commercial arbitration body. The government has either completed drafts of most of the remaining required laws or is waiting for their approval by the legislature.
Since the re-establishment of a constitutional monarchy in 1993, the economy has grown steadily. From 2004 to 2008, the economy grew at an average of approximately 10 percent per year, driven largely by an expansion in the garment, construction, agriculture, and tourism sectors. In 2005, exploitable oil and natural gas deposits were found beneath Cambodia's territorial waters, representing a new revenue stream for the government if commercial extraction begins. Mining also is attracting significant investor interest, particularly in the northern parts of the country. However, the global economic crisis has adversely affected the economy’s key pillars and economic growth was expected to contract in 2009.
Inflation decreased from its sharp rise in 2008, which peaked at 25.7 percent in May 2008 driven largely by the global surge in oil and food prices. Because the economy is heavily dollarized, a depreciation of the Cambodian riel and the U.S. dollar against trading partner currencies contributed to imported inflation, while rising domestic demand contributed to domestically generated pressures. However, these pressures lessened in 2009 and Cambodia recorded an average inflation rate of an estimated 4.5 percent and a 7.5 percent year-on-year inflation rate.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), Cambodia’s investment approval body, has dramatically increased in recent years, with approved proposals peaking at nearly USD 11 billion in 2008, compared with USD 201 million in 2004. However, figures for the first 10 months of 2009 reveal that investment has slowed significantly to only USD 1.6 billion, an 82 percent decrease compared to total investments in 2008. The CDC does not have a functional mechanism to monitor implementation of projects, so it is not clear how many proposed projects are fully implemented. Corruption has been singled out as one of the most serious deterrents to private investment.
Since early 1999, the Cambodian government has intensified its economic reform program, a process the international financial institutions and donors encourage, participate in, and monitor closely. In recent years the government has publicly committed itself on numerous occasions to fighting corruption, pursuing good governance, and increasing transparency and predictability. This strategy is set out in phase II of the government's latest public reform effort called the "Rectangular Strategy for Growth, Employment, Equity, and Efficiency."
The government has initiated specific measures to promote business, especially small and medium-sized businesses, by reducing costs and the time required for business registration and by establishing a number of committees for business promotion and trade facilitation.
Openness to Foreign Investment
Cambodia officially welcomes foreign direct investment. Cambodia’s 1994 Law on Investment established an open and liberal foreign investment regime. All sectors of the economy are open to foreign investment and 100 percent foreign ownership is permitted in most sectors. Article 44 of the Constitution provides that only Cambodian citizens and legal entities have the right to own land. However, a new law allowing foreign ownership of properties located above the ground floor is expected to be passed in 2010. Aside from this, there is little or no discrimination against foreign investors either at the time of initial investment or after investment. However, some foreign businesses have reported that they are at a disadvantage vis-a-vis Cambodian or other foreign rivals, who engage in acts of corruption or tax evasion, or take advantage of Cambodia’s poor enforcement of legal regulations.
In addition, there are a few sectors open to foreign investors which are subject to conditions, local equity participation, or prior authorization from relevant authorities. These sectors include manufacture of cigarettes, movie production, rice milling, exploitation of gemstones, publishing and printing, radio and television, manufacturing wood and stone carvings, and silk weaving. The government has issued a sub-decree restricting foreign ownership of hospitals and clinics and forbidding the employment of non-Cambodian doctors in any specialty in which the Ministry of Health considers there to be an adequate number of Cambodian practitioners.
Under a sub-decree dated September 2005, Cambodia prohibits certain investment activities, including investment in production or processing of psychotropic and narcotic substances, poisonous chemicals, agricultural pesticides and insecticides, and other goods that use chemical substances prohibited by international regulations or the World Health Organization that affect public health and the environment. Production of electric power by using waste imported from foreign countries is prohibited, as is forestry exploitation.
The privatization of state enterprises and transactions involving state property has not always been carried out in a transparent manner. In several instances, the public learned that enterprises were for sale or swap only after the government announced a sale or deal to a particular buyer.
Investor rights (investment guarantees) provided for in the Law on Investment include:
-- Foreign investors shall not be treated in a discriminatory manner by reason of being a foreign entity, except in respect to land ownership as provided for in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
-- The Royal Government of Cambodia shall not undertake a nationalization policy that adversely affects the private property of investors.
-- The Royal Government of Cambodia shall not fix the price of products or fees for services.
-- The Royal Government of Cambodia, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, shall permit investors to purchase foreign currencies through the banking system and to remit abroad those currencies as payments for imports, repayments on loans, payments of royalties and management fees, profit remittances and repatriation of capital.
The following is a summary of Cambodia’s rankings in international indexes and the Millennium Challenge Corporation score card.
|TI Corruption Index||2009||2/158|
|Heritage Economic Freedom||2009||56.6/106|
|World Bank Doing Business||2010||145/145|
|MCC Govnt Effectiveness||2009||0.00/05 percent|
|MCC Rule of Law||2009||-0.20/33 percent|
|MCC Control Corruption||2009||-0.30/12|
|MCC Fiscal Policy||2009||-2.4/35 percent|
|MCC Trade Policy||2009||63.4/36 percent|
|MCC Regulatory Quality||2009||0.21/65 percent|
|MCC Business Start Up||2009||0.765/16 percent|
|MCC Land Rights Access||2009||0.769/88 percent|
|MCC Natural Resource Mgmt||2009||68.75/61 percent|
Conversion and Transfer Policies
There are no restrictions on the conversion of capital for investors. The Foreign Exchange Law allows the National Bank of Cambodia (the central bank) to implement exchange controls in the event of a crisis; the law does not define what would constitute a crisis. The U.S. Embassy is not aware of any cases in which investors have encountered obstacles in converting local to foreign currency or in sending capital out of the country.
The U.S. dollar is widely used and circulated in the economy. The 2009 exchange rate was stable, although slightly depreciated compared to 2008. As of December 2009, the exchange rate was USD 1 = 4,164 riel. The government is committed to maintaining exchange rate stability.
Expropriation and Compensation
Article 44 of the Cambodian Constitution, which restricts land ownership to Cambodian nationals, also states that "the (state's) right to confiscate properties from any person shall be exercised only in the public interest as provided for under the law and shall require fair and just compensation in advance." Article 58 states that "the control and use of state properties shall be determined by law." The Law on Investment provides that "the Royal Government of Cambodia shall not undertake a nationalization policy which adversely affects the private property of investors."
In late 2009, the National Assembly approved the Law on Expropriation which sets broad guidelines on land-taking procedures for public interest purposes and defines public interest activities such as construction of infrastructure projects, development of buildings for national protection and civil security, construction of facilities for research and exploitation of natural resources, and construction of oil pipeline and gas networks.
In spite of various legal protections, protection of immovable property rights is complicated by the fact that most property holders do not have legal documentation of their ownership rights. Numerous cases have been reported of influential individuals or groups acquiring property through means not entirely in keeping with the Constitution or laws. This murky property holding environment may adversely affect long-term leases and /or corporate social responsibility goals unless proper due diligence is conducted. Cases of inhabitants being forced to relocate continued to occur when officials or businesspersons colluded with local authorities, although the numbers reported dropped significantly from the previous year. Human rights NGO ADHOC reported receiving 186 land related cases during the year. During the same period, another NGO received 115 land related cases in Phnom Penh and 14 provinces, affecting a total of 8,806 families. Some of those expelled successfully contested these actions in court, but the majority of the cases in the courts were still being processed.
To date, there are no known investment disputes involving government expropriation of property belonging to U.S. citizens. Up to 17 Thai businesses sustained varying degrees of damage during anti-Thai rioting in Phnom Penh on January 29, 2003. The Cambodian government pledged to compensate Thai business owners, and all of claims have been resolved.
Cambodia's legal system is a mosaic of pre-1975 statutes modeled on French law, communist-era legislation dating from 1979-1991, statutes put in place by the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) during the period 1991-93, and legislation passed by the Royal Government of Cambodia since 1993.
Cambodian culture and its legal system have traditionally favored negotiation and conciliation over adversarial conflict and adjudication. Thus, compromise solutions are the norm, even in cases where the law clearly favors one party in a dispute. In civil cases, courts will often try conciliation before proceeding with a trial.
Cambodia's court system is generally seen as non-transparent and subject to outside influence. Judges, who have been trained either for a short period in Cambodia or under other systems of law, have little access to published Cambodian statutes. Judges can be inexperienced and courts are often understaffed with little experience, particularly in adjudicating commercial disputes. The local and foreign business community reports frequent problems with inconsistent judicial rulings as well as outright corruption, and difficulty enforcing judgments. For these reasons, U.S. investors are reluctant to resort to the courts to resolve commercial disputes.
The Cambodian judiciary system is beginning to undergo reform. To provide the necessary background knowledge, judges and court staff from around the country are being trained by the Royal Academy for Judges and Prosecutors, which was created in 2002. In an effort to clean up the court system, the Prime Minister has announced ad hoc anti-corruption measures, including the dismissal, replacement, and transfer of judges and prosecutors. The Supreme Council of Magistracy, comprised of a president (the King) and eight other members, is responsible for the appointment and conduct of judges and prosecutors.
To address the perception of many Cambodian and foreign business representatives that the court system is unreliable and susceptible to external political and commercial influence, the Cambodian government is finalizing draft legislation to create a Commercial Court. In July 2009, the government passed a sub-decree creating a commercial arbitration body, the National Arbitration Center in the Ministry of Commerce. When the National Arbitration Center is operational, parties involved in a commercial dispute that have a written arbitration agreement will be able to settle commercial disputes by means of quasi-judicial methods without involvement of the Cambodian courts. Parties will be able to select arbitrators without direct government interference. The Law on Commercial Arbitration also allows the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce to establish its own arbitration center for disputes between members or between members and third parties. The law also mandates recognition of arbitral awards made outside of Cambodia. Arbitration awards can be appealed to the Appellate and Supreme Court of Cambodia based on limited grounds.
To handle specific disputes with regard to labor, the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training established an Arbitration Council in May 2003. Basing its decision on the provisions of the Labor Law, the Council has 30 arbitrators. The Council is an independent body whose function is to resolve collective labor disputes that the Ministry is unable to solve by conciliation. The Council's decisions are non-binding but it has been very successful in reducing the number of industrial actions in the garment sector. The Council plays a vital role in contributing to the development of healthy industrial relations in Cambodia. The Council's success in the garment industry has prompted unions in other sectors, e.g., the hospitality and tourism sectors, to seek the Council's arbitration and mediation services.
Cambodia became a party to the Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States in 2005. In 2009, the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) approved a U.S. investor’s Request for Arbitration in a case against the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Performance Requirements and Incentives
The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), Cambodia's foreign investment approval body, administers a package of investment incentives. The CDC was created as a one-stop shop to facilitate foreign direct investment.
Seeking to increase government revenue, the international financial institutions recommended that the Cambodian government scale back its investment incentives. Consequently, the Cambodian government amended the Law on Investment in 2003. The law creates regimes for profit (20 percent), salary (5 to 20 percent), withholding (4 to 15 percent), value-added (10 percent) and excise taxes (rates vary). While some incentives have been eliminated, the law provides a simplified, more transparent, and faster mechanism for investment approval.
Under the amended Law on Investment, the profit tax exemption is allocated automatically on the basis of activity and minimum investment amounts as set out in the sub-decree. To maintain the incentives under the law, qualified investment projects (QIP) are required to obtain an annual Certificate of Compliance from the CDC and file this with the annual tax return.
The amended Law on Investment includes the following provisions, which include the exemption, in whole or in part, of customs duties and taxes, for QIPs:
-- An exemption from the tax on profit imposed under the Law on Taxation for a set period. The tax exemption period is composed of a trigger period + three years + n years (a number of years determined according to the Financial Management Law and depending on the economic sector). The maximum allowable trigger period is to be the first year of profit or three years after the QIP earns its first revenue, whichever is sooner.
-- 100 percent exemption from import duties for construction material, production equipment and production input materials for export QIPs and supporting industry QIPs in accordance with the provisions of the sub-decree on the Implementation of the Amendment to the Law on Investment
-- Transfer of incentives by merger or acquisition.
-- Renewable land leases of up to 99 years on concession land for agricultural purposes and land ownership permitted to joint ventures with over 50 percent equity owned by Cambodians.
-- No price controls on goods produced or services rendered by investors.
-- No discrimination between foreign and local investors.
-- 100 percent exemption from export tax or duty, except for activities specifically mentioned in the Law on Customs.
-- Employment of foreign expatriates where no qualified Cambodians are available. QIPs are entitled to obtain visas and work permits.
-- A QIP that is located in a designated special economic zone (SEZ) is entitled to the same incentives and privileges as other QIPs as stipulated in the law.
The September 2005 sub-decree on the Implementation of the Amendment to the Law on Investment also details investment activities that are excluded from incentives, although investment is permitted. They include the following sectors: retail, wholesale, and duty-free stores; entertainment (including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, massage parlors, and casinos); tourism service providers; currency and financial services; press and media related activities; professional services; and production and processing of tobacco and wood products.
Incentives are also excluded in the production of certain products with an investment of less than USD 500,000 such as food and beverages; textiles, garments and footwear; and plastic, rubber, and paper products. Investors are encouraged to refer to the sub-decree for details of other investment activities that are excluded from incentives.
Investment activities that are eligible for customs duty exemption, but not eligible for the profit tax exemption, are telecommunication basic services; exploration of gas and oil, including supply bases for gas and oil activities; and mining.
Cambodia allows foreign lawyers to supply legal services with regard to foreign law and international law, and allows them to supply certain legal services with regard to Cambodian law in “commercial association” with Cambodian law firms. Cambodia’s WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) commitment defines “commercial association” as any type of commercial arrangement, without any requirement as to corporate form. Thus, there are no equity limitations on the practice of foreign and international law by foreign enterprises and there are no equity limitations on the formation of “commercial associations” under which foreigners may practice certain legal services with regard to Cambodian law.
Investors who wish to take advantage of investment incentives must submit an application to the Cambodian Investment Board (CIB), the division of the CDC charged with reviewing investment applications. Investors not wishing to apply for investment incentives, or who are ineligible, may establish their company simply by registering corporate documents with the Department of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Commerce. Once an investor's application is submitted, the CDC will issue to the applicant either a Conditional Registration Certificate or a Letter of Non-Compliance within three workdays. The Conditional Registration Certificate will set out the terms, such as approvals, authorization, clearances, permits or registrations required. If the CDC fails to issue the Conditional Registration Certificate or Letter of Non-Compliance within three workdays, then the Conditional Registration Certificate will be considered approved.
The CDC has the responsibility to obtain all of the licenses from relevant government agencies on behalf of investor applicants. The relevant government agencies must issue the required documents no later than 28 workdays from the date of the Conditional Registration Certificate. At the end of the 28 days, the CDC will issue a Final Registration Certificate.
The Sub-decree on the Implementation of the Amendment of the Law on Investment adopted on September 27, 2005 does not require investors to place a deposit guaranteeing their investment except in cases in which the deposit is required in a concession contract or real estate development project. Investors who wish to apply are required to pay an application fee of seven million riel (approx. USD 1,750) representing the administration fees for securing the approvals, authorizations, licenses, or registrations from all relevant ministries and entities including stamp duty.
Under a 2008 sub-decree, the CDC is required to submit to the Council of Ministers for approval investment proposals with an investment capital of USD 50 million or more; involve politically sensitive issues; involve the exploration and the exploitation of mineral or natural resources; may have a negative impact on the environment; have long-term strategy; or, involve infrastructure concessions.
Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
There are no limits on the rights of foreign and domestic entities to establish and own business enterprises or to compete with public enterprises. However, the Constitution provides that only Cambodian citizens or legal entities have the right to own land. A legal entity is considered to be Cambodian when at least 51 percent of its shares are owned by Cambodian citizen(s) or by Cambodian legal entities. A new law allowing foreign ownership of properties, such as apartments and condominiums is expected to be passed in 2010. The current draft stipulates that only properties located above the ground floor can be foreign-owned, and foreigners would not be able to own property within 30 kilometers of a national border.
Under the 2001 Land Law, foreign investors may secure control over land through concessions, long-term leases, or renewable short-term leases. If investors intend to take a long-term lease interest in land or ownership interest through a 51 percent Cambodian company, it is essential that caution be exercised to ensure that clear and unencumbered ownership of the land is verified.
The Land Law establishes a comprehensive legal framework for long-term leasing. The leaseholder has a contractual interest in the land, which means the lease can be sold or transferred through succession and can be pledged as security in order to raise financing. It is also important to make sure that the land ownership is clearly and legally established before entering into any leasing agreement.
Qualified investors approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia have the right to own buildings built on leased property. However the law is unclear as to whether buildings from qualified projects can be transferred between foreign investors or whether foreign investors can own buildings built through projects not approved by the CDC.
Protection of Property Rights
Cambodia has adopted legislation concerning the protection of property rights, including the Land Law and the Law on Copyrights and Law on Patent and Industrial Design. Cambodia is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.
Chattel and real property: The 2001 Land Law provides a framework for real property security and a system for recording titles and ownership. Land titles issued prior to the end of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 are not recognized due to the severe dislocations that occurred during the Khmer Rouge period. The government is making efforts to accelerate the issuance of land titles, but in practice, the titling system is cumbersome, expensive, and subject to corruption. The majority of property owners lack documentation proving ownership. Even where title records exist, recognition of legal title to land has been a problem in some court cases where judges have sought additional proof of ownership. Although foreigners are constitutionally forbidden to own land, the 2001 law allows long or short-term leases to foreigners.
Intellectual property rights (IPR): Cambodia's IPR regime is in compliance with its WTO member commitments; however, comprehensive enforcement remains problematic. The 1996 U.S.-Cambodia Trade Agreement contained a broad range of IPR protections, but given Cambodia's very limited experience with IPR, the WTO agreement granted phase-in periods for the Cambodian government to fully implement IPR protections. On November 9, 2005, the WTO granted a deadline extension until 2013 for Cambodia and other least developed countries to enforce copyright laws and begin accepting patents.
In a significant step toward consolidating IPR policy-making, enforcement and technical assistance, the Council of Ministers created the National Committee for Intellectual Property Management on September 18, 2008 with its secretariat within the Ministry of Commerce. This committee is responsible for developing national policy on intellectual property, strengthening interagency cooperation, preparing and disseminating new laws and regulations, and acting as a clearinghouse for technical assistance relating to the intellectual property sector. This new interagency IPR committee chaired by the Minister of Commerce includes a broad range of IPR actors including representatives from the Council of Ministers and the Ministries of Industry Mines and Energy; Culture and Fine Arts; Interior; Economy and Finance; Posts and Telecommunications; Health; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; Environment; Justice; Education; and Tourism.
Trademarks: The Cambodian National Assembly approved the Law Concerning Marks, Trade Names and Acts of Unfair Competition to comply with Cambodia's WTO obligations under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Signed in February 2002, the law outlines specific penalties for trademark violations, including jail sentences and fines for counterfeiting registered marks. It also contains detailed procedures for registering trademarks, invalidation and removal, licensing of marks, and infringement and remedies.
Since 1991, the Ministry of Commerce has maintained an effective trademark registration system, registering more than 35,500 trademarks (nearly 6,599 for U.S. companies) under the terms of a 1991 sub-decree, and has proven cooperative in preventing unauthorized individuals from registering U.S. trademarks in Cambodia.
Despite lacking clear legal authority to conduct enforcement activities, the Ministry of Commerce has taken effective action against trademark infringement in several cases since 1998. The Ministry has ordered local firms to stop using well-known U.S. marks, including Pizza Hut, McDonalds, Nike, Scotties, Marlboro, Seven Eleven, and Pringles. In 2009, the Ministry of Commerce resolved 12 cases of trademark infringements.
Copyrights: Copyrights are governed by the Law on Copyrights and Related Rights, which was enacted in January 2003. Responsibility for copyrights is split between the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, which handles phonograms, CDs, DVDs, and other recordings, and the Ministry of Information, which deals with printed materials. Pirated CDs, videos, textbooks, and other copyrighted materials are widely available in Cambodian markets and used throughout the country. Before the adoption of the law, there were no provisions for enforcement of copyrights.
To protect and manage their economic rights, authors and related rights holders are allowed by law to establish a collective management organization (CMO). The creation of the CMO requires authorization from either the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts or the Ministry of Information, depending on the nature of their work. The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts is developing a sub-decree on collective management. In mid-2007, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts created a Copyright Department which is gradually building capacity.
Patents and industrial designs: Cambodia has a very small industrial base, and infringement on patents and industrial designs is not yet commercially significant. With assistance from WIPO, the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy (MIME) prepared a comprehensive law on the protection of patents and industrial designs which went into force in January 2003. The law provides for the filing, registration, and protection of patents, utility model certificates and industrial designs. The MIME issued a declaration in June 2006 on granting patents and registering industrial designs.
Encrypted satellite signals, semiconductor layout designs, and trade secrets: The Ministry of Commerce is preparing a draft law for trade secrets while the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy is drafting a law on integrated circuit protection. Cambodia has not yet made significant progress toward enacting required legislation on encrypted satellite signals, although it obtained a model law on encrypted satellite signals and semiconductor layout designs from WIPO in March 1999.
IPR enforcement: With the exception of the trademark enforcement, the Cambodian government has taken few significant actions to enforce its IPR obligations. However, in January 2008, at the annual conference of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, the government suggested it would increase prosecutions for copyright violations on domestically produced products before expanding prosecutions for foreign products. Cambodian copyright law allows IPR owners to file a complaint with the authorities to take action. Law enforcement action taken at the request of owners is directed against the piracy of domestically produced music or video products, but not against piracy of foreign optical media. The owners requesting crackdowns must pay support costs to the authorities for conducting the operation. Crackdowns on such IPR violations are not conducted on a consistent basis.
Infringement of IPR is pervasive, ranging from software, compact discs, and music, to photocopied books and the sale of counterfeit products, including cigarettes, alcohol, and pharmaceuticals. In 2008, the Business Software Alliance estimated a 95 percent software piracy rate in Cambodia which cost the industry USD 47 million in 2007. Although Cambodia is not a major center for the production and export of pirated CDs, videos, and other copyrighted materials, local businesses report Cambodia is becoming an increasingly popular source of pirated material due to weak enforcement. The Ministry of Commerce has plans to put in place measures to stop IPR-violating products at borders, as post-inspection mechanisms are unlikely to be effective. During the TIFA discussions in November 2007, Cambodia requested technical assistance for a draft sub-decree on Border Measures detailing procedures at the borders allowing IPR owners to file an application with customs to suspend clearance of suspected counterfeit goods.
Transparency of the Regulatory System
There is no pattern of discrimination against foreign investors in Cambodia through a regulatory regime. Numerous issues of transparency in the regulatory regime arise, however, from the lack of legislation and the weakness of key institutions. Investors often complain that the decisions of Cambodian regulatory agencies are inconsistent, irrational, or corrupt.
The Cambodian government is still in the process of drafting laws and regulations that establish the framework for the market economy. In addition to existing laws and regulations, in 2009, the government adopted the Law on Tourism, the Insolvency Law, and a sub-decree establishing a national commercial arbitration body. A commercial contract law and other important business-related laws such as commercial court, e-commerce, telecommunications, and personal property leasing laws are in draft.
Cambodia currently has no anti-monopoly or anti-trust statutes. On a practical level, Cambodia has indicated a desire to discourage monopolistic trading arrangements in most sectors.
Cambodia is currently working on the establishment of standards and other technical measures based on international practice, guidelines, and recommendations. Under the Law on Standards in Cambodia, passed in 2007, the Institute of Standards in Cambodia (ISC) was created within the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy (MIME) as a central authority to develop and certify national standards for products, commodities, materials, services, and practices and operations. The ISC serves as the secretariat of the National Standards Council which consists of representatives from various government ministries, state-controlled academic/research institutions, the private sector, and a consumer representative created to advise as well as approve standards.
The ISC has been assigned as the focal point for technical barriers to trade (TBT) and as the agency responsible for notifications and publications required by the WTO TBT Agreement. The Ministry of Health is charged with prescribing standards, quality control, distribution and labeling requirement for medicines, but this responsibility may be brought under the ISC in the future.
Quality control of foodstuffs, plant and animal products is currently under the General Directorate of CamControl of the Ministry of Commerce. Cambodia is a member of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. Currently CamControl is the national contact point for Codex Alimentarius. Its primary responsibility is the enforcement of quality and safety of products and services relating to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures. Cambodia was provided a transition period until January 2007 to implement its WTO TBT Agreement commitments and until January 2008 to implement its SPS Agreement commitments, but has not yet fully implemented these commitments. The RGC plans to adopt a subdecree on Automatic Adoption of Codex Norms by the end of 2010.
The Cambodian Constitution and the 1997 Labor Code provide for compliance with internationally recognized core labor standards. The law authorizes the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training to set health, safety and other conditions for the workplace. (The “Labor” Section of this report discusses the labor situation in more detail.)
The National Bank of Cambodia supervises Cambodia's banks and financial institutions while the Ministry of Economy and Finance regulates the insurance industry. The insurance market in Cambodia is relatively new, but has recently begun to gain credibility and expand its scope. Currently, there are a few major insurance companies operating here such as Asia Insurance, the state-owned insurance company Caminco, Forte Insurance, Campubank Lonpac Insurance, and Infinity Insurance. Cambodia Reinsurance Company (Cambodia Re) is the only reinsurance company in Cambodia established by the government to carry out reinsurance business operations for all classes of risk, including general insurance and life insurance.
To help Cambodian businesses stay competitive in the world market, the government introduced specific measures to facilitate business, in particular exports, by attempting to reduce informal costs and streamline bureaucratic hurdles. Measures included: (1) introduction of a joint inspection by CamControl and the Customs and Excise Department and issuance of a common inspection report valid for both agencies and the "Federal Office" in order to reduce the amount of time spent applying for export goods inspection; (2) based on this common report, MIME and the Ministry of Commerce will issue the Certificate of Processing (CP) and the Certificate of Origin (CO), respectively; (3) reduction of the costs of registration from USD 615 to USD 177 and of the time limit for Cambodian government issuance of registration from 30 days to ten and a half working days; and (4) reduction of time required to acquire documents related to the CO and exports and for goods inspection.
Cambodia has renewed its commitment to creating a favorable environment for investment and trade and has further committed to reducing unofficial fees and costs related to imports and exports.
Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
Cambodia is moving to address the need for capital markets. In November 2006, the National Assembly passed legislation to permit the government to issue bonds and use the capital to make up budget deficits. However no bonds have been issued since 2007 and Prime Minister Hun Sen said in 2008 that the government does not plan to issue bonds in the near future. In 2007, the government also passed the Law on the Issuance and Trading of Non-government Securities, and, in partnership with the Korean Stock Exchange, plans to establish a stock market by the end of 2010.
At the end of November 2009, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC) released a draft administrative order on equity securities issuance, which is expected to be adopted in 2010. According to the regulation, the issuance of equity securities in the Cambodia stock market can be private placement or public offering. Private placement refers to a personal offer that is made to no more than 30 investors and with an issue size not exceeding 20 percent of shareholder’s equity when shareholder’s equity is less than USD 4.8 million or with an issue size not exceeding 15 percent of shareholder’s equity when shareholder’s equity is more than USD 4.8 million during a 12-month period. In addition, the allotment of equity securities of public offerings are divided, with a reserve of 20 percent of total public offering for investors who are Cambodian citizens, and 80 percent of the remaining public offering amount open to investors who are both Cambodian and non-Cambodian citizens.
The Cambodian government does not use regulation of capital markets to restrict foreign investment. Domestic financing is difficult to obtain at competitive interest rates. A new law addressing secured transactions, which includes a system for registering such secured interests, was promulgated in May 2007. Most loans are secured by real property mortgages or deposits of cash or other liquid assets, as provided for in the existing contract law and land law.
The total assets of Cambodia's banking system as of September 2009 were approximately USD 4.9 billion, an increase of nearly 22 percent from 2008. Loans account for about 49 percent of the banking system's assets. The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) reported that the non-performing loans (NPLs) ratio of banks has increased from 3.7 percent in December 2008 to 5.2 percent in May 2009 and that the rate could reach as high as 10 percent by the end of the year. Credit disbursement has also slowed, from a growth rate of 50 percent in 2008 to just 1 percent through the middle of 2009. As of September 2009, credit granted by the commercial banks amounted to USD 2.4 billion. Loans made to services and the wholesale and retail sectors accounted for over 40 percent of total loans. The banking sector has shown significant improvement, but requires continued progress to gain international confidence.
Under the amended Law on Banking and Financial Institutions, all of Cambodia's commercial banks had to reapply for licenses from the NBC and meet new, stricter capital and prudential requirements by the end of 2001. As a result, there was a significant shakeout and consolidation within the banking sector with the closure and liquidation of 12 banks. In September 2008, the National Bank of Cambodia moved to slow the rapid growth in the number of commercial banks, which increased by more than 20 percent in the first nine months of 2008, giving commercial banks without an investment grade shareholder until the end of 2010 to triple minimum capital from USD 13 million to USD 37 million. In January 2008, Cambodia’s banks were given their first-ever risk assessment from Standard & Poor’s of a ‘B+/B’ rating with stable outlook. Their placement was alongside that of banks in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ukraine, and Jamaica. Banks have been free to set their own interest rates since 1995 and average annual interest rate spread has declined from 15.3 percent in 2004 to 9.6 percent in May 2009 which reflects an increase in the interest rate for deposits and a decline in the interest rate for credit.
Competition from State Owned Enterprises
Private enterprises are allowed to compete with public enterprises under the same terms and conditions and in general are not entitled to special trading rights or privileges. However, certain laws and regulations reserve special rights for the state to monopolize various services including the Electricity Law which provides special privilege for the Electricity of Cambodia (EDC) to provide power transmission to the distribution companies and bulk power consumers.
Cambodia has several state-owned enterprises and two joint-venture enterprises with a majority state holding. These include rubber plantations and an agricultural inputs company, infrastructure operating companies, the Phnom Penh Water Supply, the EDC, the Rural Development Bank, and two joint-venture companies – telecommunication operator Camintel and Cambodia Pharmaceutical Enterprise. Currently, the country does not have a sovereign wealth fund.
All SOEs are under the supervision of certain line Ministries or government institutions and are overseen by boards of directors drawn from among senior government officials. The Law on Audit established the National Audit Authority and empowers the Auditor General to conduct audits of state-owned enterprises. The audit conducted by the Auditor General’s Office primarily focuses on compliance with rules governing SOE financial management. Limited information is publicly available on the financial position and performance of state-owned enterprises.
Cambodia has yet to pass the Law on Competition as part of its WTO accession obligations. Under the draft law, a National Committee on Competition will be established. However, the 1993 Constitution of Cambodia provides for the state to take necessary intervention measures to protect the competitive process of the marketplace as well as to protect consumer welfare.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
CSR is a new concept to Cambodia and is not widely understood among local producers or consumers. However, certain labor and social standards have been established in key industries, particularly in the garment sector. Under the terms of the 1999 U.S.-Cambodia Trade Agreement, the U.S. Government committed to increase the size of Cambodia’s garment export quota if the country could demonstrate improvements in labor standards. This was the first bilateral trade agreement to positively link market access with progress in compliance with labor obligations. Currently labor standard monitoring in the garment sector is being conducted by the International Labour Office (ILO) in coordination with the government. The ILO project succeeded in improving compliance with labor standards, virtually eliminating the worst labor abuses such as forced labor and child labor within the garment sector. Socially responsible businesses continue to source garments from Cambodia due to its well-deserved reputation for high labor standards.
Currently, the ILO’s Better Work and Better Factories Cambodia program is developing a training package on planning and implementing the transition of the inspections regime towards substantial compliance with international labor standard such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. In addition, several multinational enterprises conduct CSR programs in Cambodia which are viewed favorably by the local community.
Cambodia is relatively peaceful compared to its pre-UNTAC history. Election-related violence has decreased in each national election held at five-year intervals since 1993. Cambodia's 2007 commune council elections followed by the July 2008 National Assembly election had little of the pre-election violence or intimidation that preceded the 2002 and 2003 elections. The 2007 and 2008 polls resulted in clear victories for the Cambodian People's Party, with the Sam Rainsy Party emerging as the main opposition party.
Cambodian political activities have turned violent in the past, and the possibility for politically motivated violence remains. During the anti-Thai riots in 2003, the Royal Embassy of Thailand and Thai-owned commercial establishments were attacked. In November 2006, police arrested six people for allegedly plotting to conduct bomb attacks in Phnom Penh during the Water Festival.
On July 29, 2007, three improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were planted at the Vietnam-Cambodia Friendship Monument in Phnom Penh. One of the IEDs partially exploded, but the others failed to detonate and were recovered by Cambodian authorities. No one was injured. On January 2, 2009, two undetonated IEDs were found near the Ministry of National Defense and state-owned TV3. While there is no indication these incidents were directed at U.S. or other Western interests, the possibility remains that further attacks could be carried out.
Following the July 2008 UNESCO World Heritage Site listing of the Preah Vihear Temple, thousands of Thai and Cambodian soldiers amassed in a few isolated areas along the Thai-Cambodian border, particularly near the disputed Preah Vihear temple area. Since then, soldiers have clashed near the temple resulting in deaths on both sides, but the outbreaks of violence have been rare and lasted only a few hours. Both the Thai and Cambodian governments have committed to a peaceful resolution of the dispute.
Despite increasing investor interest, Cambodia continues to rank poorly on global surveys of competitiveness and corruption. According to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010, Cambodia's competitiveness ranking slipped by one point to 110 of 133 countries surveyed, a reversal of the one point climb to 109 in the 2008-2009 report (of 134 countries). The World Bank also ranked Cambodia in the lower half of the list, 145 of 183, on business climate. In 2009, Cambodia scored 2.0 on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (highly clean) in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, ranking 158 out of 180 countries assessed, suggesting widespread and endemic forms of corruption.
Business people, both local and foreign, have identified corruption, particularly within the judiciary, as the single biggest deterrent to investment in Cambodia. Corruption was cited by a plurality of respondents to the World Economic Forum survey as the most problematic factor for doing business in Cambodia. A 2007 USAID-funded survey of the Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce also found that corruption is considered to be the main obstacle for doing business.
Public sector salaries range from USD 25-60 per month for working level officials, and around USD 2000 per month for high-ranking officials. Although there is an annual salary increase of 10-15 percent, these wages are far below the level required to maintain a suitable quality of life in Cambodia, and as a result, public employees are susceptible to corruption and conflicts of interest. Local and foreign businesses report that they must often pay extra facilitation fees to expedite any business transaction. Additionally, for those seeking to enter the Cambodian market, the process for awarding government contracts is not transparent and is subject to major irregularities.
Current Cambodian laws and regulations and their application are insufficient to address the problem of corruption. Laws dating from the UNTAC period (1991-93) against embezzlement, extortion, and bribing public officials exist, but are enforced rarely, often for political reasons.
Cambodia is not a signatory to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, but has endorsed the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Action Plan for Asia and the Pacific. In 2007, the government signed a regional anti-corruption pact with eight other ASEAN countries, and in September of the same year, also signed the UN Convention Against Corruption. Cambodia is considering joining the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative governing the oil sector.
Cambodia is under increasing pressure from donors to address the issue of good governance in general, and corruption in particular. Cambodia began efforts to draft and enact anti-corruption legislation in the 1990’s. In a draft action plan on good governance presented to donors in May 2000, Cambodia promised to pass anti-corruption legislation by late 2001. Since then, donors have become increasingly frustrated with the government's failure to meet a series of benchmarks to enact new anti-corruption legislation.
However, in October, the National Assembly passed a new Penal Code, which the government has long stated was a prerequisite to the heavily anticipated anti-corruption law. In December, the Cambodian government finally approved the draft anti-corruption law which is expected to be approved by the National Assembly in 2010. Under the new law, all civil servants would be obliged to declare their financial assets to the government every two years.
The Ministry of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection (MONASRI) has an anti-corruption mandate, but is largely inactive. In 2007, however, MONASRI, with technical assistance from USAID, created a draft Access to Information Policy. The draft has yet to be forwarded to the Council of Ministers. The government also created an anti-corruption commission within the cabinet in late 1999, which has undertaken a few investigations, one of which resulted in the dismissal of a mid-level official in late 2001. Also in 2001, the government established a National Audit Authority, which has been only marginally effective because of its lack of transparency and independence.
Ignoring the existing anti-corruption commission, the government established the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) in August 2006, a temporary body designed to address corruption until the anti-corruption legislation is passed. The mission of the ACU is to focus on preventing corruption, strengthening law enforcement, and obtaining public support for combating corruption. However the ACU is considered to be ineffective because of its lack of independence and capacity.
In its most comprehensive reform strategy, the Rectangular Strategy Phase II, adopted as the government platform in 2008 after phase I in 2004, the Cambodian government once again renewed its commitment to fight corruption and make good governance the centerpiece of reform. The strategy acknowledges the importance of taking action against corruption, but the challenge remains a daunting and long-term one that will require political will at the highest levels of the government.
Bilateral Investment Agreements
Cambodia has signed bilateral investment agreements with Australia, China, Croatia, Cuba, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Indonesia, Kuwait, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, the Netherlands, North Korea, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand, and Vietnam. Future agreements with Algeria, Bulgaria, Burma, Egypt, Hungary, Libya, Malta, Qatar, Russia, the United Kingdom, and Ukraine are planned. The agreements provide reciprocal national treatment to investors, excluding benefits deriving from membership in future customs unions or free trade areas and agreements relating to taxation. The agreements preclude expropriations except those that are undertaken for a lawful or public purpose, are non-discriminatory, and are accompanied by prompt, adequate and effective compensation at the fair market value of the property prior to expropriation. The agreements also guarantee repatriation of investments and provide for settlement of investment disputes via arbitration.
In addition, in July 2006, Cambodia signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the United States, which will promote greater trade and investment in both countries and provide a forum to address bilateral trade and investment issues. Two very successful meetings were held under the TIFA in 2007 in which the U.S. and Cambodian governments discussed WTO accession requirements, trade facilitation and economic development initiatives, and progress on intellectual property rights. Since then, several bilateral working level meetings have been held to advance the TIFA agenda.
OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs
Cambodia is eligible for the Quick Cover Program under which the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) offers financing and political risk insurance coverage for projects on an expedited basis. With most investment contracts written in U.S. dollars, there is little exchange risk. Even for riel-denominated transactions, there is only one exchange rate, which is fairly stable. Cambodia is a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the World Bank, which offers political-risk insurance to foreign investors.
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) provides financing for purchases of U.S. exports by private-sector buyers in Cambodia on repayment terms of up to seven years. Ex-Im Bank support typically will be limited to transactions with a commercial bank functioning as an obligor or guarantor; however, it will consider transactions without a bank undertaking on a case-by-case basis.
The country has an economically active population (defined as being ten years of age and older) of some 8.8 million people out of a population of 13.4 million. While government statistics are somewhat higher, they do not fully capture the problems of unemployment and underemployment in Cambodia.
The economy is not able to generate enough jobs in the formal sector to handle the large number of entrants to the job market. This dilemma is likely to become more pronounced over the next decade. Cambodia suffers from a large demographic imbalance. According to the 2008 General Population Census of Cambodia, Cambodia’s annual population growth rate is 1.54 percent. Persons 20 years of age or younger account for 48.1 percent of the total population. As a result, over the next decade at least 275,000 new job seekers will enter the labor market each year.
Approximately 65 - 70 percent of the labor force is engaged in subsistence agriculture. At the end of 2009, about 278,000 people, the majority of whom are women, were employed in the garment sector, with 300,000 Cambodians employed in the tourism sector, and a further 50,000 people in construction.
The 2009-2010 Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum identified an inadequately educated workforce as one of the most serious problems in doing business in Cambodia. Given the severe disruption to the Cambodian education system and loss of skilled Cambodians during the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge period, workers with higher education or specialized skills are few and in high demand. A Cambodia Socio-Economic Survey conducted in 2004 found that about 12 percent of the labor force has completed at least an elementary education. Only 1.2 percent of the labor force completed post-secondary education.
Overall literacy, for those aged fifteen and over, is 75.1 percent with male literacy rates considerably higher than those for females in both urban and rural areas. Many adults and children enroll in supplementary educational programs, including English and computer training. Employers report that Cambodian workers are eager to learn and, when trained, are excellent, hardworking employees.
Cambodia's 1997 labor code protects the right of association and the rights to organize and bargain collectively. The code prohibits forced or compulsory labor, establishes 15 as the minimum allowable age for paid work, and 18 as the minimum age for anyone engaged in work that is hazardous, unhealthy or unsafe. The statute also guarantees an eight-hour workday and 48-hour work week, and provides for time-and-a-half pay for overtime or work on the employee's day off. The law gives the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training (MOLVT) a legal mandate to set minimum wages after consultation with the tripartite Labor Advisory Committee. In January 2007, the minimum wage for garment and footwear workers was officially set at USD 50 per month. In April 2008, a USD 6 per month cost of living allowance was instituted to offset high levels of inflation. There is no minimum wage for any other industry. To increase competitiveness of garment manufacturers, the labor code was amended in 2007 to establish a night shift wage of 130 percent of day time wages.
Acleda Bank, a local commercial bank, is currently managing Cambodia’s first National Social Security Fund (NSSF), which protects workers against occupational risks and workplace accidents. The fund was established by sub-decree in 2007 and requires employers to contribute 0.8 percent of each employee’s salary to the NSSF. As December 29, 2009, approximately 350,000 workers, most from the garment sector, contribute to the fund through their employer. The Cambodian government has responded to the global economic crisis by temporarily contributing 0.3 percent towards the NSSF on behalf of employers for two years (2009-2010) which has resulted in a reduction of employers’ obligation from 0.8 percent to 0.5 percent of total wages. A second phase of the fund, to be implemented in 2010, will focus on health care for employees, followed by pensions in 2012.
Enforcement of many aspects of the labor code is poor, albeit improving. Labor disputes can be problematic and may involve workers simply demanding conditions to which they are legally entitled. In labor disputes in which workers complain of poor or unhealthy conditions, MOLVT and the Ministry of Commerce have ordered the employer to take corrective measures. The U.S. Government, the ILO, and others are working closely with Cambodia to improve enforcement of the labor code and workers' rights in general. The U.S.-Cambodia Bilateral Textile Agreement linked Cambodian compliance with internationally recognized core labor standards with the level of textile quota the U.S. granted to Cambodia. While the quota regime ended on January 1, 2005, a “Better Factories” program continues to build on the labor standards established.
Foreign Trade Zones
To facilitate the country's development, the Cambodian government has shown great interest in increasing exports via geographically defined special economic zones (SEZs), with the goal of attracting much-needed foreign direct investment.
The government is preparing a Law on Special Economic Zones which will define SEZs and establish the rules under which they will operate. The law may be submitted for approval of the Council of Ministers in 2010.
In late December 2005, the Council of Ministers passed a sub-decree on Establishment and Management of Special Economic Zones to speed up the creation of the zones. The sub-decree details procedures, conditions and incentives for the investors in the zone.
Since issuing the sub-decree, the Cambodia Special Economic Zones Board (CSEZB) has approved 21 SEZs as of December 2009, of which 4 are in operation, located near the borders of Thailand and Vietnam, and in Phnom Penh, Kampot, and Sihanoukville.
Foreign Investment Statistics
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) proposals approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) have dramatically increased in recent years, with approved FDI reaching USD 10.9 billion in 2008, compared with USD 201 million in 2004. However, FDI inflows declined dramatically to only USD 1.6 billion as of October 2009 due to the impact of the global economic crisis. FDI registered capital however, has been modest since 1995, with an average inflow of USD 304 million in the period 1995-2008. The FDI registered capital figures probably understate actual investment, since they report only registered capital and not fixed assets. CDC statistics for fixed assets, however, are based on projections, and the CDC has no effective monitoring mechanism to determine the veracity of the numbers. The FDI registered capital flow into Cambodia is uneven and gradually declined from USD 135 million in 1999 to USD 30 million in 2003, but rose to USD 105 million in 2009.
Total FDI registered capital flows into Cambodia for the years 1998-2009 are presented in the table below, in USD million. (Source: CDC) (Note: statistics from the National Bank of Cambodia differ significantly from CDC's figures.)
Figures from the CDC for registered capital of approved projects, including domestic investment, and broken down by country of origin and economic sector, are provided below. The FDI registered capital figures below may overstate investment because they include projects that have not yet been, or may never be, fully implemented and retention of dormant or defunct projects from earlier years makes the investment figures appear higher.
Total cumulative registered investment projects approved, by country of origin, August 1994 to October 2009 (source: CDC)
|Sector||USD millions||Number of Projects|
|- Food Processing||93.5||13|
|- Wood Processing||100.3||17|
New investment projects in USD million, by country of origin, 2004-2009(source: CDC)
New investment projects in USD million, by sector, 2004-2009 (source: CDC)
|- Food Processing||1||na||22||24||4||2|
|- Wood Processing||1||na||na||2||na||2|
The CDC has registered approximately USD 71 million in U.S. investment since August 1994. Caltex has a chain of service stations and a petroleum holding facility in Sihanoukville; Crown Beverage Cans Cambodia Limited, a part of Crown Holdings Inc., produces aluminum cans; and Chevron is actively exploring offshore petroleum deposits. W2E Siang Phong Co., Ltd., a joint venture between U.S.- Dutch investors, invested in biogas power generation. There are also U.S. investors in a number of Cambodia's garment factories.
In 2008, several Cambodia-focused private equity funds emerged seeking to raise between USD 100 and USD 500 million each for investments in infrastructure, agriculture, tourism, and real estate development, among other sectors. However it appears the global economic slowdown is limiting fund-raising abilities, and widespread investments by these funds have not yet materialized.
Major non-U.S. foreign investors include Asia Pacific Breweries (Singapore), Asia Insurance (Hong Kong), ANZ Bank (Australia), BHP Billiton (Australia), Oxiana (Australia), Infinity Financial Solutions (Malaysia), Total (France), Cambodia Airport Management Services (CAMS) (France), Samart Mobil Phone (Malaysia), Shinawatra Mobile Phone (Singapore), Thakral Cambodia Industries (Singapore), Petronas Cambodia (Malaysia), Charoeun Pokphand (Thailand), Siam Cement (Thailand), and Cambrew (Malaysia).
Since 2007, several well-known U.S. companies opened or upgraded their presence in Cambodia. General Electric and DuPont have established representative offices. Otis Elevators, a division of United Technologies, also upgraded to a branch office, and Microsoft initiated a presence through its Market Development Program.
Some major local companies and their sectors are: Sokimex (petroleum, tourism, garment), Royal Group of Companies (mobile phone, telecommunication, banking, insurance), AZ Distribution (construction, telecommunication), Mong Rethy Groups (construction, agro-industry, rubber and oil palm plantation), KT Pacific Group (airport project, construction, tobacco, food and electronics distribution), Hero King (cigarettes, casinos and power), Anco Brothers (cigarettes, casinos and power), Canadia Bank (banking and real estate), Acleda Bank (microfinance), and Men Sarun Import and Export (agro-industry, rice and rubber export).
In 2009 Acleda Bank opened its first bank branch outside of Cambodia in Laos, and has announced plans for further expansion into Vietnam and China. Statistics on Cambodian investment overseas are not available, but such investments are likely minimal.