Central and Eastern Europe Represented by EuroCham in New Chapter

The latest chapter aims to pave the way for more economic partnerships and bilateral engagements between the region and Cambodia
A worker carries a sack of rice into a truck in Phnom Penh, November 16, 2022. Kiripost/Siv Channa
A worker carries a sack of rice into a truck in Phnom Penh, November 16, 2022. Kiripost/Siv Channa

The European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham) is launching a new chapter, the Central and Eastern European Business Association (CEEBAC), to reinvigorate the region’s connection with Cambodia while strengthening economic and cultural ties.

According to a statement by EuroCham, Cambodia has had a connection with central and eastern Europe dating back to “at least the 1960s”.

“King Norodom Sihamoni studied in Prague from 1962 to 1975, speaks fluent Czech, and has referred to the Czech Republic as his second home,” the chamber stated.

Following the launch on May 11 at an exclusive event called “Night out in Europe '' in Hyatt Regency Phnom Penh as part of Europe Week 2023, CEEBAC will be added to EuroCham’s list of national chapters.

The list comprises the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Cambodia, British Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia, NordCham, Italian-Cambodian Business Association and Benelux Cambodia.

The tentative list of countries to be supported by CEEBAC include Bulgaria, Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

The last chapter

CEEBAC would provide another platform to strengthen economic partnerships and opportunities for more bilateral engagement with support from EuroCham Cambodia, said its chairman Tassilo Brinzer.

He noted that Central and Eastern Europe are “very innovative European growth regions” that have much to offer in trade and investment and cultural exchanges with Cambodia.

“CEEBAC, as the last large chapter of EuroCham, offers an umbrella to 11 more countries within EuroCham's 27-country strong family. I am sure that it will make itself heard and become a very important part of our community."

Meanwhile, Pi Pay CEO and serial entrepreneur Tomas Pokorny, a Czech Republican, expressed excitement for the potential of CEEBAC in playing a role in fostering a stronger relationship between his home country and Cambodia.

“Government support is good, but unless you have commercial support from private institutions as well, it’s hard to build economic ties.

“So, this needs to go hand-in-hand with private-public partnerships. Hence, founding CEEBAC under EuroCham with ties to both segments seems to be the right move,” Pokorny said.

Potential in tech, engineering

Pokorny pointed out that there is “trade potential between the region and Cambodia in tech and engineering goods and services, with Eastern Europe known for its light and heavy machinery production, from medical equipment to aeronautics”.

He also sees opportunity in the food and beverage sector, especially, dairy, meats, wine and dry goods.

Pokorny cited the example of Budweiser Budvar beer, a Czech beer which can be found on the shelves of Cambodian shops, thanks to the efforts of the Embassy of the Czech Republic and KS Logistics Co Ltd.

Cambodia’s ideal geographic location makes it an even stronger potential partner, Pokorny said, adding that it could prosper as a trading hub for the region and play a much more significant role.

For now, most transport routes run through Thailand or Vietnam, but Cambodia is in an even better position, able to connect Central and Eastern Europe with Southeast Asia and Far-east Asia as well.

“Some say the Cambodian market is small but it’s still bigger than many of the countries in the Central and Eastern European [with their] companies combined. Once private companies prove there is traction and volume in this economic partnership, more will follow,” he said.