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Because of the high cost of international calls, users are turning to other methods for communicating abroad. First, many people rely on incoming international calls with the ratio of incoming to outgoing 29 million minutes of incoming international calls in compared to 9.
Due to this situation, the MPTC is looking at the possibilities to open this market. Internet The penetration of the Internet in Cambodia has been as skyrocketing as the implementation of mobile phones, as Under Secretary of State, H. Koy Kim Sea, who is also in charge of Camnet, explains: "Lately the growth of Internet has been slowed down due to the lack of a proper telecommunications infrastructure in the country. The mobile telephony has developed at a greater pace than the ground lines making the penetration of Internet to the rural areas more difficult".
Nevertheless, next to Camnet, national Internet access provider, there are another 4 ISP's active in the country and other licenses have been granted although they are not yet active. In order to see the IT sector develop the government has created a new institution responding directly to the Prime Minister Hun Sen, in words of his Secretary General, Mr.
The Authority is also charged with the formulation of an ICT Master Plan, with one of its main objectives the connection of all layers of the government to the Internet to improve the quality of service to bring the government closer to the people and vice versa.
Since the creation of the Authority three years back, the evolution has been remarkable. It started as a three men team and currently counts with employees. Only NGO's or high government officials had access to it. A Draft of the Sub-Decree on this subject has been made and expects its finalization, possibly, in the current mandate. Telephone calls in Cambodia are generally among the highest in the world.
The official price of international telephone calls was set up and published with yearly steady reduction and with up to 20 percent discount on Week-End, based on the international accounting rate bilaterally agreed up on a specific schedule. Prices for calls to neighboring countries then were decreased throughout the years as follows: This decrease would be gradually applied for the year There is no possibility of the MPTC issuing another gateway license based on the current laws and traffic demand.
However, these are subject to change depending on the company expressing interest. There are about , mobile users in the country. It is a very prosperous sector as the operators enjoy the fair playing field fostered by MPTC. They compete with each other freely without any impositions of price restriction.
However, it is a common phenomenon for congestion to plague the networks because of over-capacity and insufficient equipment to meet demand, especially during peak hours. Investment has been quite stagnant in this aspect because of costs involved investments normally get investment incentives such as tax free imports and the high costs of securing expansion investments. Veng Sereyvuth the recent surge in this sector must be accounted for the "great change in the image of the country" through the improvement of social living conditions and upgrading of facilities.
Top Report on Cambodia Tourism related activities - hotels and restaurants - grew at an average annual rate of 30 percent over It slowed down during , but picked up again in when it grew by 20 percent. Over the last few years, the development in the tourism industry has made a significant contribution to economic growth by attracting foreign investments, creating jobs and generating income for the local people. If the country suffered from a negative image from the war's legacy, "there is right now an opportunity that has been missing for 30 years" says H.
Veng Sereyvuth, Minister of Tourism. Indeed the ASEAN Tourism Forum, which took place in Phnom Penh last January, served as a positive testing ground for Cambodia's ability to handle a project of international scope and was an exceptional springboard for the launching of "the Visit Cambodia Year" with a slogan " Cambodia World of Treasure".
Top Report on Cambodia Though, tourism still suffers Cambodia's 3 decades of war, the priority for the next five years are lying mainly in the development of the overall infrastructure. Transport re-facing With improved infrastructure - Airport renovation and construction projects are currently implemented or planned at Pochentong, Siem Reap, Ratanakkiri, Stung Treng, Kampong Chhnang, plus the addition of Sihanoukville as a regional airport and the completion of a major road network that will connect all parts of the country in the next 3 to5 years - the potential for tourism in Cambodia is immense.
Indeed development of tourism markets depends largely on improved access to, and movement within, Cambodia. This future diversification of domestic flights will thus provide tourist access to a wider range of destinations. At the Ministry of Tourism there seem to be confidence on this part. Veng Sereyvuth forecasts that by "; we will have a complete infrastructure in terms of road link.
Top Report on Cambodia which brought in a large amount of foreign and local tourists to Angkor Wat. Thanks to this initiative Cambodia has given direct access to its major tourist assets but the road access from Thailand, Vietnam or other tourism oriented neighbors, is still lacking.
Nevertheless the Open Sky Policy focuses only in the development on the main tourist asset of the country; the Angkor Wat complex, and has left behind other destinations such as the capital city. Reaching the core of this issue Michel G.
Ltd, owner company of Hotel Cambodiana declares "The Cambodiana's Hotel development strategy has to focus on business because as long as the Open Sky Policy is in place and as long as the country is not completely open; with new destinations where we can offer various packages for tourists to stay three, four, five nights within Cambodia, tourists may carry on to bypass Phnom Penh".
Professionals underline the importance of diversifying the "products" offered within Cambodia and to establish a clear and comprehensive development and communication plan for the sector. Development plans The government has framed for the sector a development plan focused on 4 strategic regional areas symbolically forming a dragon: Siem Reap Cultural tourism with the Angkor complex, Phnom Penh body of the dragon, business tourism , Sihanoukville head of dragon for tourism and industry with the sea tourism and Rotanak-kiri eco-tourism tale of the dragon.
The government aims at developing an overall strategy for tourism development with among others the establishment of a tourism attraction information database. Top Report on Cambodia Eco-tourism and sustainable developments Cambodia has good prospects for developing both eco-tourism and cultural tourism. The Angkor Temples and pristine environments of Cardamom Mountains, and other protected forest and wildlife areas offer good potential for development. However, this ought to be pursued on a sustainable basis.
A 30 ha zone has been reserved for the construction of hotels". APSARA Authority has primarily set the objective to maintain a balance between actions to protect the cultural heritage and the environment and the need to develop a strong tourism industry as part of a necessary socioeconomic development in Siem Reap. Offering service will be a token of a worthy experience for the tourist. It also undertook the training of monument guards and offers local residents the tourism related employment opportunities.
Sok An, Minister in charge of the council of Ministers explains that thanks to its "Environment awareness oriented policy; Angkor will be the world's first cultural heritage site to be awarded an ISO certificate for the implementation of environment". There is a strong desire to protect the historical legacy in Cambodia, considering that tourism development can be sustainable by maintenance of the integrity of cultural and religious traditional matched with proper management of the natural and environment protection.
Top Report on Cambodia Cambodia: a future one-stop destination? Tourism arrivals in Cambodia are estimated to reach one million in to 2. Tourism in Cambodia has bucked the trend that saw many global and regional tourism destinations suffer adversely from the general regional crisis.
Most of the parties involved in tourism in Cambodia agree to state that one of the main tasks is to bring visitors to extend their stay as Marc Bessagat, General Manager of the Sofitel Royal Angkor points out "We are not yet a one stand destination…we need to develop this new concept, we are all collaborating in the whole industry sector in order to increase this stay".
The challenges are set; implement the national infrastructure for a better accessibility of the several tourist sites, such as Rattanak Kiri in the East of the country. Develop a better infrastructure to welcome all kind of tourists, especially in the coastal area, where many projects are being developed such as golf's and five stars complexes. Last but not least diversify and promote the several assets of Cambodia in order to make it a one-stop destination. The renewed political peace and stability is the first step to all these achievements and step-by-step, with its world famous Angkor temples, Cambodia is gaining popularity.
Top Report on Cambodia TRANSPORT Infrastructure Development of the transport and communications systems and improved delivery of water and power supplies is essential to the achievement of economic growth with equity and social development. In fact, Cambodia's infrastructure, which was almost completely destroyed after more than twenty years of warfare, civil strife and neglect, is slowly being restored. The current transport system consists of the road network, railways, inland waterways and ports, and air transport.
International seaports at Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh are the key gateways linking the country to regional and international markets, handling an estimated 1. International airports in Phom Penh and Siem Reap are also important gateways for growing passengers traffic. Road transport The Cambodian government has not allocated significant budget resources to repairing the country's roads but the highways system is therefore being rehabilitated through bilateral foreign assistance projects and multilateral loans, as they become available.
Top Report on Cambodia 4 rehabilitation project in late improved links between Phnom Penh and the deepwater port of Sihanoukville. Minister Khy Taing Lim, explains: "The first priority will be given to the 2. The second priority will be given to an additional km of the National road system that more directly links adjacent provinces and connects small communities with towns and cities. This road rehabilitation will strengthen the linkage between the three broad economic zones which are: tourism zone formed by Siem Reap, Preah Vihear and Kompong Thom, the industrial zone defined by the coastal region and the agricultural zone, covering the eastern region of the Mekong river.
Ongoing projects will cost a total of USD Railway transport The railway system consists of a km Northern line constructed between and , which runs from Phnom Penh to Poipet in the north west; and a km Southern line built in the late s which runs from the capital to the deep sea port at Sihanoukville. Rail traffic nonetheless showed signs of increasing as peace and security were established. In , it was estimated that a total investment of USD million would be needed to allow safe operations and increased capacities of trains per day on the Southern line.
The Northern line runs through rich agricultural areas that are poorly served by the road network, and potentially connects with the Thai railway system, becoming part of the proposed Trans Asian Railway linking the ASEAN sub-region with China.
In this aspect there is still much to do as H. But the royal government can not face this challenge by its own and hopes to find foreign investors that would be interested in a Joint Venture, which will allow the railways to remain public but would grant them the rehabilitation and commercial management. Top Report on Cambodia Cambodian airports and the "Open sky policy" In the airway sector we can underline the strong participation of foreign investors.
In April , the government entered into an agreement that provides for a concessionaire to operate Siem Reap Airport and share revenues with the government. Three months later, in June, we had 2 airports, cargo terminals, ground activities and staff. In the long term it is expected that a new international airport will be constructed in Siem Reap to meet the demand of growing air traffic and for development into a profitable and self-financing operation.
Having a grid of airports, the next challenge was indeed to increase the traffic and by the open sky policy the government has seen an opportunity not only to boost the airports activity but also its tourism sector as H. E Veng Sereyvouth, Minister of Tourism underlines: "When you are relying on the regional market and the local market you have no other policy than to allow them to fly direct to our country. Open up the country, open up the sky". Concerning the possible creation of a new national carrier -the Royal Air Cambodge -bankrupted in the Minister in charge of The Council of Ministers H.
Top Report on Cambodia find out a partner for re-establishing our new national airlines", but so far no agreement have been achieved. Shipping and fluvial transport There is one fluvial port in Phom Penh, which was rehabilitated with Japanese assistance. The internal waterways have a high potential with their km, but only km are currently used. Plans are on their way to reactivate the life of this port, which is located in the center of Cambodia, in the crossroads of the main rivers of the country Mekong, Tonle Sap and Bassac and close to the manufacturing centers as well as to the consumers themselves.
To realize this change, the Port's Director General, Mr. Hei Bavy is applying a new strategy: "Although the Port of Phnom Penh was designed for general cargo, in we started considering a change in our strategy to swift our activities towards the main purpose of serving the container traffic" The second and most important port of Cambodia, is the deep sea Autonomous Port of Sihanoukville www.
It is managed by a state-owned enterprise; it is involved in its third phase of reconstruction. This phase started in and will be finished by April , once finished the port will have a fully operational container terminal. The Minister of Public Works and Transport forecasts an increase of the harbor's activity with an improvement of high technological facilities linked with a sound management which will allow a decrease of running costs, as the Kingdom is located at the heart of the ASEAN market.
The improvements are already starting to be seen in the statistics of the port's activity, as the Sihanoukville's Autonomous Port General Director, Mr. Lu Kim Chhun explains: "the current statistics are very encouraging; in the first three months of this year the volume increased 28 percent compared with same time in ". Rebuilding infrastructures in indeed one of the main challenges of the Royal Government of Cambodia. Nevertheless foreign assistant in this matter is crucial and haven't achieved the level expected in order to open up the country and therefore speed up its development.
Top Report on Cambodia sector for instance the road from Siem Reap to Phonm Penh, is still a pity and discourage many to even think about traveling by road in between this two destination. On the same way the road linking Phnom Penh to Hanoi lack of liability and comfort and discourage the entry of nearly 10 million tourists visiting the neighboring countries. A special emphasis has nevertheless been put in the road network and significant improvements are to be seen in the coming years.
After long years of debilitating war, the country has at last found peace and security, and is now entering a period of economic development. Cambodia, a member of ASEAN, is that the geographic centre of the countries making up the Mekong Region, home to some million people, offering an exciting potential for economic expansion.
A recent conferment of international donor and countries that are providing financial assistance for the restoration of Cambodia confirmed that this country enjoys the confidence of the international community. The Cambodian government has been successful in creating the conditions needed to draw both investors and tourists back to Cambodia. The town of Siem Reap, with its 50, inhabitants, six Kilo-metres away from Angkor Wat, is the economic hub of the region.
Flights from Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur are planned for the near future. Top Report on Cambodia In addition, Siem Reap may be reached by river from the capital, and the upgrading of the road network currently being carried out will shortly enable visitors to travel by car or bus from either Phnom Penh or Thailand.
While awaiting completion of a new airport, the existing runway is being enlarged in order to accommodate high capacity aircraft. The site is experiencing a significant increase in the flow of tourists, the number of which is expected to reach , in and gradually grow to 1 million in the next few years. Green areas and buildings will be blended together. The area will contain tourists and leisure facilities only. It is reserved exclusively for luxury and first- class hotels with a capacity of over 60 rooms, in accordance with urban development regulations.
Essential utilities electricity, water supply, etc. The development of the hectare initial phase in two stages will make available up to 1, rooms, together with ancillary services and leisure facilities. For hotels, the leasing fee is set pro rata the number of rooms planned. Construction projects are subject to standard specifications detailing the legal, technical, aesthetic and financial conditions for the implementation and operation of the venture. In this way, investors are able to negotiate with the Cambodian authorities and operate in a climate of total co-operation and transparency; with the added assurance that the outstanding world heritage represented by the Angkor temples will be preserved.
Infrastructures of Angkor Park Apsara Authority in cooperation with the Siem Reap provincial office has installed electric lights along: 1. The road running from the Royal Residence to Angkor Wat, Apsara Authority covered all expenses incurred through the installation of the lighting system. The road to Siem Reap International Airport The road to Angkor Wat To help facilitate traffic around the provincial stadium, Apsara Authority decided to repair a road to the south of the stadium.
This road was opened for use at the beginning of Work completed during the initial six month period ending in December included: archaeological research; drawing of a plan of the temple as a whole; preparation of a system of organising loose stones in order to make them easy to examine; cleaning of the temple surroundings; and a study of the effect on the temple of the trees which surround it.
Repairing the ancient drainage system Examining the soil sample from drilling Chau Say Tevoda Temple By the end of , ongoing restoration work at Chau Say Tevoda Temple directed by technical experts from the People's Republic of China had: - Completed restoration of the causeway - Almost completed restoration of the southern library and southern gate tower Work scheduled for the coming years include: - Repair of the eastern gate tower - Repair of the porch of the central sanctuary - Reconstruction of the northern gate tower from which many stones have fallen Southern library before restoration.
The workshop considered: - Re-cataloguing of inscriptions according to their proper date - Photographing rubbings of inscriptions and entering such documentation into a computerised data base which would then be made widely available through the Internet - Formalisation of the methods and tools used to make rubbings of inscriptions - Organisation of a plan to make rubbings of newly discovered inscription as well as to give them inventory numbers.
Workshop The participants of this workshop included: researcher from the EFEO; representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Find Arts; participants from the department of Archaeology Royal University of find Arts, Phnom Penh ; as well as researchers from the department of culture of Apsara Authority.
The Centre opened its doors at its new Location on the 1st of January, Thirty nine boats having an average of 20 oarsmen. Nous avons un autre important projet qui est celui de construire un canal reliant le Tonle Sap au port de Phnum Kraom.
Une de ces voies contourne la zone d'Angkor vers l'ouest et la seconde vers l'est, elles sont respectivement de 10 et 20 km. Top Report on Cambodia monuments. Notre principe est de ne pas banaliser les monuments. Dans quels domaines? Nous avons un nombre important de projets pour lesquels nous souhaitons l'intervention d'investisseurs. Unfortunately the construction was halted due to the events in The site remained idle under Khmer rouge and Vietnamese occupation, and in Singaporean investors, M.
Stephen Lek and M. Lim Ban Thoon re-launched the project and completed the Hotel as its present site. Top Report on Cambodia Opened first in June , Hotel Cambodiana has been an integral historical part of the country's progress and hosted numerous guests of honor. Akashi and Hotel Cambodiana has since then been the home of foreign Ambassadors and Royalties visiting Cambodia.
Nowadays, Hotel Cambodiana has long serving staff having extensive knowledge of Cambodian history, culture and customs. Furthermore the Hotel is well renowned to have the prime location in the city right on the banks of the Mekong River.
The Hotel Cambodiana is the longest running top class hotel in Cambodia and the only luxury hotel with breathtaking views on the Mekong River and the Royal Palace. At the Hotel Cambodiana we pride ourselves on providing the most luxurious accommodations in Phnom Penh and an authentic Cambodian experience. For the ultimate in luxury we have the Royal Mekong Club Suites. Top Report on Cambodia For business or pleasure, a choice of facilities to suit your needs. The ground floor of the Hotel Cambodiana contains a range of specialty shops to fulfil all of your requirements.
Those who require the very best will appreciate the luxury amenities, free upgrades, and special offers provided by the Mekong Club. Audiovisual equipment and computers are available for rental as well as secretarial services with multilingual staff to assist with translation to Khmer, English, French, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
Top Report on Cambodia The Hotel Cambodiana has the facilities and experience required to make your conference or other event a success. Our functions rooms can accommodate up to people for conferences, meetings, seminars or banquets and tailormade meeting packages available from 22 USD. Enjoy the help of our creative catering staff who can manage your affair with the utmost experience. Informal all-day dining is available at the full buffet spread of the Mekong restaurant while French cuisine is the specialty at l'Amboise restaurant for the discerning palate.
Try a delicious pastry with freshly brewed coffee at the Deli Shop or sample the best the Orient has to offer at the Asian Wok. End your day at the Lobby Bar, cocktails accompanied with live entertainment in the evenings. Top Report on Cambodia The Hotel Cambodiana's six restaurants and bars regularly host special events and are constantly updating their range of offerings.
Or if you wish to relax in the privacy of your own room, we provide hour room service. Cambodiana Investment Pte. Can you introduce us the hotel and its historical background? Hotel Cambodiana is an investment realized by a Singaporean company called Cambodiana Investment Pte. The owners of the company, Mr. Lim Bantoon, Mr. Steven Lek and Mr. Peter Lek came in to Cambodia and signed an agreement with the government to lease the hotel and the land on which the hotel is built.
That same year, the refurbishing of the hotel started and it officially opened its doors at the beginning of The lease agreement is for 70 years and the surface where the hotel stands is 3,5 ha. When we came, the structure of the hotel was already built. We did the decoration, elevators, air conditioning and so on. The construction of this hotel was commissioned back in by King Sihanouk and formed part of tourism development project along the river.
Next to this hotel, were also a V. We were already fully operational even before the signing of the Peace Agreement in October in Paris. When the King himself came to Cambodia in November , we saw plenty of countries re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cambodia and also the delegations of the UN settling to help develop the country and all its political activities.
Not only the UN had its offices in our hotel, at a certain point we achieved to host thirteen ambassadors because there was nowhere else to stay. There was no electricity so it was hard to get a house in conditions. The hotel is self-sufficient producing its own electricity, treating its water and importing its own gas. So and were quite busy years for the hotel. After the UN personnel left in , occupancy went down because there was not much economic growth, in and begin although we saw the construction of two competitors, the Intercontinental and the Raffles.
Then in July we were confronted with the social unrest and also the Asia crisis. We had a few bad years but we managed to survive after drastic actions. In tourists started to come back. In the year , we managed to restore some confidence to the travel agencies to send some tourists and there was renewed of interest of some investors to return to the country. In this context, we saw a substantial increase on the political activities, especially within the region.
Currently we are being hit by the war in the Middle East. Most of our European reservations have cancelled because of this conflict. At the same time we got the double blow of the appearance of SARS, which is quite bad for all the Asian countries. Due to the war and the SARS a lot of them cancelled. Having said that, April is also the beginning of the low season for Cambodia, so it is quite normal to experience a slow down in occupancy.
We are also worried about this year due to the upcoming elections in July Generally, when elections take place, there is a slow down in occupancy rates, as people want to wait for the result before taking action. Right now it is a wait and see situation. Can you give us some key figures of the hotel? We have rooms including 24 suites. There are four restaurants: one Italian, one French, one Asian, a coffee shop and a bar. Top Report on Cambodia for people, three smaller meeting rooms for smaller size conferences.
There is also an executive floor and business center designed for business travelers, meeting their specific needs. There is also a swimming pool, which is a luxury here in Phnom Penh; two tennis courts, a gymnasium and a spa center. Next to that there is also We have employees, full time, casual employees are hired for special activities like banquets. This can be explained mostly because of the effect of the Open Sky Policy of the government. What concerns turn over, our room rates decreased tremendously from to but then went back again.
Presently our average room rate is between 62 and 65 USD. In we were above the USD. When we see the evolution of the Cambodiana throughout the years, Ambassadors, UN officials and delegations from several organizations along with businessmen have been your main clients. Is your strategy exclusively directed toward business travelers?
We changed our strategy over the last two years. What we are doing now is to focus on all conferences. It is a very interesting market segment for us because they not only consume rooms, but also the rest of the facilities of the hotel, which is what we need. So we are looking at the trend of the last two years and this is a market that is developing quite fast.
As you said it's connected with the government, embassies and the UN, the EU and all these organizations, which are here to help politically and financially the country. There are more and more meetings and trainings organized by these organizations here in Phnom Penh, so we are reinvesting in our facilities keeping in mind the needs of these groups.
We focus on business because as long as the Open Sky Policy is in place and as long as the country is not completely open; with new destinations where we can offer various packages for tourists to stay three, four, five nights within Cambodia, tourists may carry on to bypass Phnom Penh. Indeed, the strategy is to invest in our rooms and the conferences and banquet facilities to attract the business travelers. But of course will encourage the tourist to come to Cambodia.
Do you have any specific project to attract those tourists towards Phnom Penh or to invest yourself in other sites of Cambodia? As a single company we cannot sway markets around. But we are working closely with the Ministry of Tourism to develop more awareness about tourism in Cambodia and specifically to Phnom Penh.
Top Report on Cambodia take my hat off to the Minister of Tourism and his team because they have done a very good job in the last two years. It was a fantastic organization, some of my guests said it was the best ATF they have attended. Furthermore they have launched many brochures. The Minister is very active and is extremely good at Public Relations.
We are joining them to help in as many things as we can. With this in mind we have created the Phnom Penh Hotel Association and through the association we try to work closer with the travel agencies and the airlines to get packages together and new ideas to promote Phnom Penh as a destination other than Siem Reap.
We are helping as well in different forums between the public and private sectors to raise issues and proposals to promote and develop more the interests for tourism to Phnom Penh. It has started to pay off. The more we expose Cambodia through activities like the ASEAN Tourism Forum, the "Visit Cambodia Year" and campaigns in the embassies who transmit information about the country, the more Cambodia will be in the spotlight.
There are not many new destinations worldwide, as soon as Thailand and Vietnam get saturated and markets like Myanmar keep being politically uncertain, Cambodia will remain as the new venue. The view of the Minister of Tourism to achieve the goal of 1 million visitors is achievable.
If you realize that Singapore is doing over 7 million tourists a year and Thailand over 10 million, the goal of the Minister is realistic. Keep in mind that these one million visitors can be achieved only with Siem Reap and a little bit in Phnom Penh. There is still a huge potential of development for the whole country.
Currently your company manages the hotel. As you said earlier, you used to have a managing contract with Sofitel-Accor. Are you planning in the near future to get back to one of those managing contract with an international chain or you want to keep the formula you are using now? We are always open to the two options. As an investor, I am always looking into how to get the best return and the best value of my property and my investment.
It's a question of making the right decision at the right time. Today, our decision is to manage the hotel ourselves; we have the expertise in management and a long term service staff, most of them have been here since the opening. We have, I believe, a very good understanding of the market and what is Cambodia.
Right now it's not the proper time to give the toy to somebody else to play with. Can you tell us more about your career path, your experience in Cambodia and your greatest satisfaction while working in this country? I have a vacational training certificate at the Hotel Management School in Strasbourg. I started working in Paris for four years with the group Accor. From there I went for the first time to Cambodia.
I moved on again to South Korea. In , I opened my own business in Singapore as a consultant for hotel management. At the same time I invested in the company owing the hotel Cambodiana. Top Report on Cambodia My greatest satisfaction in Cambodia has been to see the development of my staff.
Six months after my arrival in , I had to change the uniforms of my staff because they were much more healthy than when they started. It is indeed a great satisfaction to have given jobs, hope and something to look up to. Most of my initial staff is still here, they have their own families and they have also evolved professionally. Furthermore plenty of my managing staff is Cambodian. It is fantastic to have seen their evolution. As a businessman having private investments in the country, what would be the final message you would like to transmit to potential investors interested in Cambodia?
Cambodia is a place you either love or you don't. If you want to invest here, you must love it. Because it is a difficult place to work in. To manage a company here, you must consider yourself as a captain; you are in your own boat and even if there is no wind, you have to make sure you bring your boat forward. If there is a storm you have to keep your boat floating. This is why I compare a businessman here to a captain of a boat. We all want to make money, but you have to understand that there are some aspects of the Cambodian economy that are still in the stage of infancy, such as laws; technical assistance; training, etc.
Due to this difficulty you have to make sure you love the country, otherwise it will be difficult for you to make business here. There are still a lot of opportunities; it is just a question of how much guts do you have and you also need to have a special profile to come over here. At that time it was managed by former staff of the National Bank of Cambodia.
Today, we have branches in Phnom Penh city and other parts of Cambodia. We are affiliated to major foreign banks in North America, Europe, and Asia to handle financial transactions of our customers abroad. Canadia Bank Ltd. The Bank's directors are: Mr. Pung Kheav Se Mrs. Lim Sophany Mr. Phuong Khinh Hoa Mr. Mao Khan Mr. Tol Hak. We are one of the leaders in helping open up the banking and financial sector in Cambodia.
Our team works very hard to innovate and design services and products to achieve a professional and high banking standard. It is a fully air-conditioned building equipped with elevators and lifts as well as a large parking area. The village consists of a market, stores, a bus station, cinema and houses. The industrial park is well equipped with all the basic infrastructures i. It will have a total area of 20 hectares near the world famous Angkor Wat temples site in Siem Reap.
Can you present us your bank, its main developments since its formation and tell us why you decided to create it? I left Cambodia in to go to Canada. The situation in my country was quite unstable and we wanted to go abroad to have a new life. In , I received a letter from my uncle who had come back to Cambodia from Paris. In that letter, he explained to me that things had improved a lot in Cambodia at the political and economical level and that it was time for me to come back.
So in , I came to Cambodia, met some businessmen and government people and decided to establish a business. While being in Canada, we had a jewelry store and people were asking me to send their money towards family members in Cambodia. Although it began with small amounts, in we were sending already 5 million USD, which is a huge amount. This transfer of money concept gave the idea to create a bank.
At that point, there was not much confidence in the country and although the policy of the Government was to attract foreign investment, specially the one coming from Cambodians living overseas, we decided to create a trust company which was also able to provide banking services. At that time there were just 5 banks in Cambodia and my bank started to flourish thanks to the UNTAC and its soldiers that made a lot of deposits. Top Report on Cambodia In the Governor of the Bank of Cambodia approached me requesting me to formally transform my trust company into a bank as it was growing so fast.
Although our initial capital was not enough, the Governor told me we could start already with 1. As we had a lot of depositors and also plenty of Cambodians from overseas trusting in our bank, we managed to grow and currently my bank's total assets amounting of million USD. In deposits we have million and our reserves in totals 18 million USD. Can you give us some other facts and figures about your bank?
What concerns the customers, we do not have the statistics on that, but mainly we deal with local businessmen and other foreign businessmen coming mainly form China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. We have a hard time attracting Western businessmen as they consider our country not to be reliable. They prefer to deal with foreign banks, as they do not have so much confidence in local banks, my bank is local owned even if the capital comes from foreigners, the money is always in Cambodia.
We have a total of 12 offices throughout the country one head office, one exchange office and ten other branches. There are employees from which around are security guards. This is needed to create confidence with our customers. There are no security companies to transport the money, so I must provide the trucks to send the money to our clients. Since the application of the new banking law, there are 17 banks left operating in Cambodia, what would you consider are your competitive advantages in respect to those other 16 banks?
Before the application of the Banking Law, there were a lot of speculators obtaining a license for other purposes than just banking in Cambodia. Others thought that with the low capital requirements, just 5 million USD, they could come to Cambodia to make easy businesses, but in fact they were always disappointed and their level of business became so low that they had to shut down or the Government revoked their licenses.
With the new requirements, there are just 17 banks left complying with the Banking Law. What concerns our competitive advantage, we are creating the confidence in the people, even during hard times, and we have stayed while other banks, mainly foreign, ran away.
We even remained opened during the July events in Everyone came to get their money so we decided to limit the withdrawals to a 1, USD per day and with the priority to customers who had to deal with foreigners in order to let them respect their payments and keep on business.
Luckily at that time we had a lot of cash reserve, so we suffered a lot for more than 20 days, but later when everything cleared up, the depositors came back. Since then we have an image of reliable bank. Our money is here, not invested abroad. So Cambodia's loan and deposit spread is very high because a lot of bankers keep cash in hand. Your bank is also known for its product innovation, what are the main services and products you are offering?
Our bank is the first commercial bank in Cambodia to use the smart card system. We were also the first banks to introduce an ATM machine for my cardholders, but it seems not to be so successful. This is mainly due to the fact that Cambodians are quite conservative and they always want to have cash in hand. This has helped to increase the country's image.
Another of our advantages is our relatively small size that helps us take decisions quickly and easily on subjects like loan requests. When it comes to loans, we know the local people and business so we can take decisions easily and efficiently.
Also my staff is part of my competitive advantage, most of them are multi-lingual, making Chinese, English and French investors feel comfortable. We also have several facilities without charge and we even offer some VIP services. What other projects or services is Canadia Bank developing? We have two conditions, the first one is that we must manage the finances and the second one is to obtain a good profit share. It doesn't have to be seen as equity participation, it is just a loan.
So every year the developer must pay interests, the profit sharing and some small management fee to the bank. With this way of working we can help develop the country. There are plenty of people with good ideas but no money to implement them so our bank gets involved and helps those entrepreneurs to realize their projects. It is hard to find businessmen willing to get involved in projects above one million USD, but we already have created an industrial park, a shopping mall, a convention and multi purpose hall and a cultural village with this formula.
You are mainly focused on the local level but what are the plans of the bank to internationalize its activities and get involved in international projects? International development projects are not that easy to start. We started dealing with IFC International Finance Corporation and the World Bank, but with Cambodia's image it is not so easy to get funding from this kind of institutions.
We presented a project for renewable energy in with feasibility studies included and after three years we still have no answer. Top Report on Cambodia Cambodia it is difficult to find this kind of projects. Mainly also because of the competition big projects should have to face with our huge neighbors Vietnam and Thailand. In order to get into the international scene, do you think you would need to create a strategic alliance or a partnership with a foreign institution?
We started up one project with a German financial institution called KfW. Our bank was chosen, as we are quite active on the small business loan. So, they sent a consultant to our bank and the project was approved. We are interested into obtaining long term funding, I am talking of ten years with three years grace period.
So our target is to find foreign financial institutions to have long-term local funds for economic development. This is very hard for local businessmen, we have to reduce the interest rate. With all your experience in the Cambodian banking system, what would you say are the strengths and weaknesses of this system? One of the points to improve is to be really connected with foreign financial institutions. Not only at the technical or the management level, the most important is the funding.
We have had a good start but I think this is a long process. The moment we start to have a more attractive long term, low cost funding, and industries will start to get profitable. On the positive side, the Cambodian banks have little Government intervention and although the start-up requirements are quite high, the Governor of the Central Bank does not ignore the banker's needs.
The Government has established a working group with the banks and the Banker's Association to ask their opinions about new issues. They see the banker as a partner and they want to know about their problems and their opinions. Do you have any kind of training policy for your own staff in order to develop their skills? When we started our bank, most of the management team was former employees of the National Bank or people we had brought over from Canada or France. We required university level and mastering several languages.
Currently we have training programs on Saturday for languages and internal management. We also send employees to seminars abroad to improve our bank staff's skills. So, as you can see our bank is indeed committed to help our staff develop. Top Report on Cambodia What would be your final message to foreign investors willing to come to Cambodia? My opinion as a bank manager is that when a foreign investor decides to come to Cambodia, the first thing he has to do, is to choose a good partner.
Second, there is a need to maintain a good communication at the right government level and also at a right timing. The most important thing is you need to do a good market research. Choose a good project with a good partner and invest the money in research. Its board is composed of all ministers of the Royal Government of Cambodia. Top Report on Cambodia The Cambodian Investment Board CIB , has been designated as the one-stop service of the government, its main task is to effectively promote and facilitate investment trough a speedy approval procedure and very competitive incentive packages.
The final objective of this policy being to create employment, increase national productivity and competitiveness to achieve a sustainable socio-economic development. Nevertheless, private sector investment is becoming increasingly important for the country as the private sector assumes its position as the main engine for economic growth in Cambodia.
The Royal Government of Cambodia sees private sector investment as vital to the development of a fully democratic and prosperous Cambodia in the years ahead. It has also signed agreements with the ADB, providing private sector investors with the opportunity to obtain funding for their investment projects from this international financing institution. Even in this area, the regulations are generous, with foreign investors able to lease land for a period of up to 70 years.
Top Report on Cambodia services rendered by investors, and to grant them the right to freely repatriate capital, interest and other financial revenues. In addition, the Law on Investment and its related Sub-Decrees grant generous incentives to investors, especially those concerned in investment projects geared towards exports. Attention is also accorded to private investment in Build-Operate-Transfer BOT projects, and private investment in infrastructure, including public utilities such as electricity, water supply and telecommunications, a successful example of this policy is the Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports realized in partnership with Vinci.
Our policy is concentrated on seven main points; 1- Continue to develop labor-intensive industries, such as garment, toys and footwear. The government will provide incentives to establish factories to process agricultural products, such as cotton, jute, sugar, palm oil, cashew nuts, rubber, cassava and fruits. The critical issue for SME's is to provide micro financing, streamline procedures, provide marketing services and supply information on sectorial development.
We are a Global Publishing House and Market and Business Intelligence provider based on the production of practical multimedia content and advertising. With over reports published in some of the most prestigious media outlets in the world, we have proven ourselves to be a true leader in our industry. We are responsible for various publications, have published more than 40 eBiz Guides, and have recently released a new magazine entitled eBiz Africa Review.
Our goal is to be the bridge between governments, major corporations, and with the business community around the world. Thanks to the products we produce, we are able to bring investors and high-potential investment areas together. To connect businesspeople through the production of business intelligence, multimedia content, and advertising.
In addition, the genesis of State Insurance is also a key advantage for us. We started as a department of government and offered insurance to persons who were unable to afford insurance. When we started, the majority of our clients were in lower income brackets. However, our portfolio has changed over the years and we now have customers from all income brackets. Nevertheless, clients who have moved from the lower to the middle-income bracket continue to be our strongest supporters.
WI : Regarding the international market, what is your presence in the region, do you have plans to expand internationally? Therefore, expanding internationally is part of our long-term plan. We are planning to have a presence in the OECS region in the next five years and then expand into the rest of the Caribbean region. In the long term we want to expand our reach internationally, and we are currently taking small steps to achieve this. WI : Your reputation as a trustworthy company and a reliable business partner has recently attracted more high-end customers.
What are the products that you offer to this segment of the market and how is the expansion of your services and products to these new customer profile reflected in your overall business strategy? LFB : We recognize that pricing is always a factor and our strategy is built by taking prices and competition into account.
The strategy that we have implemented has been to create interesting products for the higher income bracket customers in order to attract them. An example of this is our moto comprehensive policy. For the latter, we had a special premium for high-end clients. We found that our competitors had significantly higher prices for premiums so we decided to offer a special premium to our high-end customers.
I think that our financial strength and our reputation has given them the confidence to come to State Insurance Company. Our strategy going forward is to ensure that our clients recognize that they are the key to our success. As a matter of fact, today we are having a corporate lunch with our high-income clients to let them know that we appreciate being their partners of choice.
WI : We know that you're investing in rebranding the company -apart from rebranding the logo and the image -. What are the key steps that you're taking in this rebranding? LFB : We have revised our mission, vision and core values, and will be launching our new corporate identity in an event tomorrow evening. We are also focusing on ensuring that the experience our clients have when they come to State Insurance Company is so positive that it encourages them to recommend us to all of their friends and family.
We have ads in the newspapers and a great social media presence, however, a great one on one interaction with our clients is the best kind of marketing we can ask for. WI : Will the company make some digital efforts and also launch online products in this rebranding campaign? LFB : It's something that we are presently working on. Our digital platform will probably be launched in the second quarter of this year and it will give our clients the ability to transact business online and to get updates on what is happening with their account, especially if there's a claim.
WI : China is the number one development partner of the country. What opportunities for further cooperation with Chinese investors are available for Antigua and Barbuda in general, and for State Insurance Company in particular, and how are you capitalizing on this lucrative market? LFB : When international investors come to the island, they regularly invest in properties and we are available to provide them with all types of policies.
State Insurance Company has a very strong reputation for only using A class fees and charges. We have the vision that both local and international investors who makes us their Insurance company of choice, are confident that if there is a claim it will be honoured. We work hard to ensure that we have the required financial strength to settle any claims or eventualities that might take place.
WI : Given that you have the attention of over Our goal is to be the bridge between governments, major corporations, and with the business community around the world. Thanks to the products we produce, we are able to bring investors and high-potential investment areas together. To connect businesspeople through the production of business intelligence, multimedia content, and advertising.
We express our will to make things happen, our passion for travel, and our means to offer new ways of communication by connecting people. This is not just something we say, but something we do and demand on a daily basis. We strongly believe in fulfilling our goals and promises in and out of work.
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