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Chinese investments and tourists give Cambodian economy a boost
PHNOM PENH－Chinese investors and tourists have greatly contributed to socioeconomic development and poverty reduction in Cambodia, local business leaders said, as China is both the largest source of foreign direct investment and tourists to its neighbor.
According to a report by the Council for the Development of Cambodia, the fixed asset investment from China accounted for 20.2 percent of the total investment in Cambodia from 1994 to 2017.
In 2017, Cambodia attracted the fixed asset investment of $1.43 billion from China, or 27 percent of the total investment in the country last year.
More than 1 million Chinese tourists visited Cambodia last year, injecting around $700 million into local economy, according to Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khon.
As for Premier Li Keqiang"s recent visit to Cambodia, Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said excellent relations and cooperation were the main factor encouraging more Chinese investors and tourists to Cambodia.
"Both Chinese investors and tourists have provided huge benefits to Cambodia in socioeconomic development and poverty reduction," he said, adding that they have created hundreds of thousands of direct jobs for Cambodian people.
Heng said Chinese investors have invested in various sectors in Cambodia, including garment and footwear, energy, infrastructure, telecoms, banking and finance, agriculture, agro-industry, and real estate and construction.
He said the visit by Premier Li would further strengthen political and economic ties and cooperation between the two countries.
Kim Heang, president of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association, which has 97 real estate companies as its members, said more Chinese people have come to Cambodia because the peoples of the two countries are like brothers and many Cambodians are of Chinese descent.
"The most important factor is that the relationship between the governments of the two countries is very close so that Chinese investors feel very warm when they invest in Cambodia," he said.
Khek Norinda, director of communication and public relations department of the Cambodia Airports, said that China"s investment, especially in transport infrastructure development, was crucial for socio-economic development and poverty reduction.
Chhay Sivlin, president of the Cambodia Association of Travel Agents, which represents about 250 tour and travel companies, said Chinese investors and tourists have greatly contributed to the development of tourism in the kingdom.
"A lot of tourism-related businesses such as hotels, resorts, travel and tour companies, and restaurants are investments by Chinese businesspeople," she said.
Besides being the largest investor and source of tourists, China is also a leading trade partner of Cambodia.
According to Cambodian government figures, the total trade volume between the two countries was valued at $5.1 billion in the first 11 months of 2017, surpassing the total volume in 2016.
Sivlin attributed the growth of the bilateral trade to the increasing popularity of Chinese products.
"Chinese products are gaining popularity in Cambodia because of their good quality and competitive prices," she said, giving an example of Huawei smartphones.
"Huawei smartphones are good in quality with many useful functions, and their battery life also lasts for much longer than that of iPhone," said Sivlin, who is also a Huawei smartphone user.