by Nguon Sovan, Mao Pengfei
PHNOM PENH, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Chinese investors and tourists have greatly contributed to socio-economic development and poverty reduction in Cambodia, Cambodian business community leaders said.
China is both the largest sources of foreign direct investment (FDI) and tourists to Cambodia.
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 U.S. dollars from China, or 27 percent of the total investment in the country last year.
For tourism, Chinese tourists to the kingdom surpassed the 1-million mark last year, bringing around 700 million U.S. dollars into the Cambodian economy, according to Cambodian Tourism Minister Thong Khon.
As for Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's recent visit to Cambodia, Lim Heng, vice president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said excellent relations and cooperation between the two countries were the main factor encouraging more Chinese investors and tourists to Cambodia.
"Both Chinese investors and tourists have provided huge benefits to Cambodia in socio-economic development and poverty reduction," he told Xinhua, adding that they have created hundreds of thousands of direct jobs for Cambodian people.
Lim Heng, who is also the president of agro-industrial development firm An Mady Group, 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 to Cambodia 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 have descended from China.
"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 told Xinhua.
Kim Heang, who is also the chief executive officer of Khmer Real Estate, said a lot of Chinese investors have invested in real estate and construction here in recent years, especially in the capital of Phnom Penh and coastal Preah Sihanouk province.
"Chinese investors have brought Cambodia new capital, new technologies, and employment opportunities," he said.
Khek Norinda, director of communication and public relations department of the Cambodia Airports, said:" Infrastructure development is pivotal to supporting Cambodia's growth path." According to Norinda, currently, 11 Chinese airlines and 5 Cambodian carriers have been operating nearly 200 weekly flights between Cambodia and China.
He said the increasing numbers of airlines and flights between the two countries truly reflected the growing attractiveness of Cambodia as a destination to visitors and in particular to Chinese travelers - both leisure and business ones.
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 have been invested by Chinese businesspeople," she told Xinhua.
Sivlin, who is also the president and chief executive officer of CSL Travel & Tours, said that her company has partnered with five Chinese companies to provide travel and tour packages to tourists between the two countries.
Besides 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 U.S. dollars 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, such as construction materials and electronic products in the Cambodian markets.
"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.