Accompanied by a high-level delegation, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob will touch down in Phnom Penh today to be greeted by the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. Both leaders will be meeting to discuss a number of issues of common interest for the two countries, top among them economic ties, bilateral trade and investments. Other themes to be addressed in the meeting between the two leaders will be defence and security, and the post Covid-19 socio-economic recovery, as well as an exchange of views on regional and international issues.
Today’s arrival of Prime Minister Ismail is part of his back-to-back official visits to Cambodia and Thailand from 23-26 February and is fulfilling an invitation extended to him by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Speaking to Khmer Times, Eldeen Husaini Mohd Hashim, Ambassador of Malaysia to Cambodia, explained the importance of this visit for both countries during this historic moment, presenting great opportunities for both leaders to commit to bilateral agreements which are mutually beneficial for the two nations.
“Y.A.B. Prime Minister’s visit to Cambodia and Thailand reflect the close and comprehensive ties between Malaysia and the two countries not only bilaterally but also within the ASEAN family. This will afford the opportunity for Malaysia and the respective countries to explore joint initiatives in post-pandemic recovery efforts, as well as in addressing regional and international challenges,” he said.
Prime Minister Ismail’s overnight stay in the capital will see him pay a visit to the Royal Palace to be received by King Norodom Sihamoni, and includes a visit to the Independence Monument to lay wreaths and on to the Late King-Father Norodom Sihanouk’s Royal Memorial Statue to lay a wreath.
He will also meet with the President of the Senate, Say Chhum, President of the National Assembly, Heng Samrin as well as investors and business leaders.
His first official visit to Cambodia comes after entering into office last August. The Prime Minister also arrives at a time to mark the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, at a moment after the trying period which saw both countries suffer economically due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Okhna Tan Khee Meng, president of the Malaysian Business Chamber of Commerce (MBCC), sees other contributing factors to the confluence of events that make this moment in Malaysia-Cambodia relations a turning point for economic cooperation and investments in a changing world.
“Malaysian investors represent one of the most important groups in Cambodia for investments, and under the new Law on Investment, the Cambodian government has been putting a lot of emphasis on businesses that are best suited to current needs such as green energies, green development, and fintech,” Tan told Khmer Times in reference to sectors where projects will be eligible for the status of Qualified Investment Projects, or QIP, under the New Law On Investments. Approved QIPs will be granted investment and tax incentives at preferential rates for up to nine years and the initiative is being lauded by Malaysian businesses, as could be seen by a recent forum between the MBCC and the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).
According to the CDC, Malaysia had invested more than $3.15 billion in Cambodia by the end of 2021, but with strong competition from neighbouring countries, Malaysian investors and businesses see specific areas of growth for them, according to Tan.
“Malaysia has a very strong SME sector and it’s probably the best thing that we can bring to Cambodia, so it’s time for Malaysian businesses to re-think and re-shape investment strategies that can help them compete against neighbouring countries, and find a niche in the market. I think that some of the big players from China, Japan and South Korea may overlook the value of SME’s,” said Tan, before pointing to areas where he sees successful investments in the near future.
“We have good green architecture and solar technology, and Malaysia is one of the major Halal food production hubs in the world, so Cambodia being rich in raw material production, can position itself to serve this large Muslim markets in the world,” Tan said, before noting Malaysia’s strength in its diversity: “Also being a multi-racial society, we are more adaptable for training the local workforce here in Cambodia.”
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.