Boosting Cambodia's Global Reputation and Business Opportunities

Business leaders say Cambodia needs to improve its global reputation and modernize its skilled workforce to bolster economic growth and drive foreign investment
A panel discussion on export information for SMEs held by EuroCham. Kiripost/Seng Mengheng
A panel discussion on export information for SMEs held by EuroCham. Kiripost/Seng Mengheng

Cambodia's private sector is seen as the key to the country's economic growth and foreign investment. However, the country faces challenges due to its lack of a positive global reputation and awareness about its modern skilled workforce and high-quality products.

The panel discussion, "Export Information for SMEs," by EuroCham emphasized that to address these issues, experts suggest implementing programs to increase awareness and education about modern Cambodia and its products and services. Additionally, networking and establishing a strong presence in new markets are crucial for businesses looking to expand and compete.

Nancy Jaffe, Chief Strategy Officer at MangoTango Asia, said that one of the challenges faced is that Cambodia does not have a positive global reputation. This has caused specific issues, such as Cambodia being overlooked or underestimated due to a lack of understanding about modern Cambodia and its skilled workforce.

She added that even in the food sector, where the country has delicious products to export, the quality is often overlooked because Cambodia is not known for producing high-quality goods. It would be very beneficial if the government can implement programs to increase awareness of Cambodia's quality of products and services.

“We want to export more of our delicious food, but nobody thinks of Cambodian food as quality. So if there could be some kind of national focus to try to raise Cambodian awareness of the quality of products and services, I think that would be tremendously helpful,” Nancy said.

Tan Yuvaroath, Deputy Director of The General Department of Trade Promotion at the Ministry of Commerce, believes education is a crucial aspect, as many people are stuck in their old ways of thinking. “We can use tools such as “visits to Cambodia 2023” to raise awareness about modern Cambodian life and how people are changing their mindsets,” he said.

He added the Ministry has had a lot of success in the past, especially with China. It brings together business people from other countries and there have been several business forums.

In terms of business meetings, Yuvaroath said that he normally does not directly contact with private companies, but rather goes through the Chamber of Commerce, because there is a limit of numbers and sometimes it is noticed, those who are closely connected to the time may be called upon.

However, the government aims to reform this system in the future, recognizing that the private sector is the key to economic growth, he said, adding that Cambodia is an attractive destination for foreign investors, and “we have not had to work hard to attract them. We are looking to expand trade and investment opportunities with investors from Australia, America, Europe, and China”.

“Maybe in the future, we will try to reform that. Cambodia's private sector is considered the engine for growth and attracts foreign investors easily,” Yuvaroath said.

Sok Sopheakmonkol, CEO of Codingate, said that it is important to establish your own presence before making sales and taking time to grow. Networking provides a great opportunity for us to do this.

“Networking can help us reach new opportunities but we need to take those opportunities seriously and present ourselves in the best possible way, when entering a new country,” he said, adding there needs to be competition to stay there by offering services and adding value.

“We can rely on government associations, NGOs, and good networking to achieve this. Additionally, advertising can be helpful, but I believe that networking is a core value more effective to stand out in our service,” Sokpheakmonkol said.