Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong speaks at the Boao Forum for Asia-Phnom Penh Conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Sept. 26, 2018. Cambodian and Chinese business leaders met here on Wednesday at the first-ever Boao Forum for Asia-Phnom Penh Conference, exploring ways to bring the China-Cambodian economic cooperation and trade into a new era. (Xinhua/Phearum)
PHNOM PENH, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian and Chinese business leaders met here on Wednesday at the first-ever Boao Forum for Asia-Phnom Penh Conference, exploring ways to bring the Sino-Cambodian economic cooperation and trade into a new era.
Co-organized by the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) and the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, the two-day event brought together 34 Chinese business leaders and about 70 Cambodian counterparts.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference on Wednesday afternoon, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong said the conference would contribute further to strengthening business relations between Cambodia and China.
"I believe that the conference today will significantly contribute to attracting more Chinese investors and providing real information on Cambodia's investment potential to foreign investors," he said.
He said China is the largest source of both foreign direct investment and tourists to Cambodia, and is also a leading trading partner of Cambodia.
According to the Cambodian government figures, the country welcomed 1.2 million Chinese tourists in 2017, up 46 percent year-on-year, as the two-way trade volume was valued at 5.8 billion U.S. dollars last year, up 22 percent from the year before.
Namhong said China had invested in a number of sectors here, including banking and finance, construction, telecommunication, garment and textiles, agriculture, infrastructure, hydropower plants and special economic zones.
"China is Cambodia's close and most reliable friend," the deputy prime minister said. "Grant aid, non-interest and low-interest loans, and huge amount of investment from China have played an important role in Cambodia's socio-economic development."
He said assistance and investment from China had greatly helped sustain Cambodia's economic growth of 7.6 percent per annum in the last two decades.
Namhong said under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, cooperation between Cambodia and China in investment, trade, industries, infrastructure development, tourism, and agriculture had been further strengthened and expanded.
Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Xiong Bo said the conference provided a good opportunity for business leaders of the two countries to exchange views on further promoting economic cooperation and trade, and to strengthen communication.
"We hope that the conference will help Asia and the world to learn more about Cambodia's investment potential and to attract more foreign investors to Cambodia," he said.
BFA Secretary General Li Baodong said Cambodia is one of the fastest growing economies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and is also one of Asia's most attractive countries to investors.
He said the BFA is the most prestigious and premier forum for leaders from government, business, and academia in Asia and other continents to share vision on the most pressing issues in the dynamic region and the world at large.
He added that the BFA is to promote regional economic integration and to bring Asian countries even closer to their development goals.
Kith Meng, president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, said the conference marked historic relations between the BFA and the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce and set milestone for strategic cooperation between the two organizations.
"I strongly believe that this conference would serve as an excellent platform for Chinese entrepreneurs to obtain insights on business environment and related policies of Cambodia, while introducing Boao Forum for Asia to the Cambodian government and business community," he said.
Kith Meng added that Chinese investment played a vital role in socio-economic and infrastructure development in Cambodia.