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Cambodian investors foresee opportunities in UAE market

The initiatives are expected to significantly enhance trade, real estate and tourism cooperation, accelerating progress between the two countries.

Cambodian investors foresee opportunities in UAE market

The Cambodian private sector is optimistic about the benefits of the recently enacted Cambodia-United Arab Emirates (UAE) Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CAM-UAE CEPA) and the accompanying Cambodia-UAE Business and Investment Forum, held in Dubai, the UAE’s commercial hub.

The initiatives are expected to significantly enhance trade, real estate and tourism cooperation, accelerating progress between the two countries.

Following initial discussions in October 2022 in Abu Dhabi, the agreement was officially signed in Phnom Penh on June 8, 2023, and came into effect on January 31 this year. The negotiations had alternated between the Emirati capital and Phnom Penh.

To mark the commencement of the CEPA and to promote business and investment prospects, the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry hosted the 3rd Cambodia-UAE Business and Investment Forum on February 27.

The event, aimed at bolstering trade ties between the two nations, saw the participation of Minister of Commerce Cham Nimul and UAE foreign minister Ahmed bin Ali Al Sayegh, alongside representatives from both countries’ chambers of commerce and various public and private enterprises.

Kim Heang, regional operating principal of Keller Williams (KW) Cambodia and Khmer Real Estate Co Ltd, recently attended the business and investment forum in Dubai.

He expressed to The Post on February 29 his optimism as a Cambodian investor about the numerous opportunities and advantages stemming from the cooperation between Cambodia and the UAE, a highly developed economy.

He highlighted the potential for the two nations to strengthen and broaden their trade cooperation, beginning with tourism.

Heang said that while the number of Cambodians travelling to the UAE has been increasing annually, the influx of tourists from the UAE to Cambodia remains minimal, primarily due to insufficient promotion.

“On my first visit to the UAE, I saw many opportunities for the two countries to work together. The UAE, along with its neighbouring Arab countries, offer some of the most appealing investment policies,” he said.

“Considering the overall market in the UAE, there seems to be considerable opportunity for agricultural products to gain market share. This is due to the high quality and affordability of Cambodian agricultural goods, coupled with a strong demand for these products in the UAE,” he added.

Regarding the real estate and construction sectors, Heang asserted that countries in the Arab region, particularly the UAE, attract a significant number of foreign investors. He said the market in the UAE is particularly appealing, drawing in investors to engage and purchase more.

“Even on my first trip, I was interested in starting a business there,” he said.

Heang noted that the UAE stands as one of the world’s leading markets, notable for its minimal tax rates, with most rates being zero.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), stated that the trade agreement would significantly benefit Cambodia. He said it would expand the nation’s export market to the UAE and other Arab countries, attracting more investors, particularly in the oil, gas and energy sectors.

He noted that freight traffic from Cambodia to Arab countries is conveniently situated close to Europe and the US.

“I am optimistic that the UAE market will make a significant contribution to the development of the export market for Cambodian products, especially agricultural products, which are less productive in the Arab world, whereas Cambodia’s production is increasing every year,” he stated.

Commerce ministry sprokesperson Penn Sovicheat previously spoke to The Post about the country’s potential in attracting the attention of the UAE.

He said this included sectors like oil, minerals, agriculture and meat production.

He highlighted that Cambodia is exploring the extensive potential of its export markets, particularly for products like agricultural goods, textiles and garments, not only to the UAE but also across the Middle East.

“The agreement is expected to attract investors from various Middle Eastern countries to Cambodia for production and export activities. Establishing a market in the UAE will also facilitate exports to other regional countries, given the existing agreements among these nations,” he said.

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