With an average annual growth rate of 7.7 per cent for the economy between 1998 and 2019, Cambodia is one of the fastest-growing countries in the world and easily the new ‘Asian Tiger of the 21st Century,’ said Anthony Galliano, President of the American Chamber of Commerce and Group CEO of Cambodian Investment Management Holdings, yesterday.
Making a presentation on ‘An Overview of Cambodian Market: What Drives the Economy and What Opportunities Are Rhere for Local, Multinational Companies and Individual Investors,” at the real estate property show at Premier Centre, Sen Sok yesterday, Anthony said Cambodia is now on the same growth trajectory as that of Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea that were billed as Asian Tigers due to their rapid industrialization and over seven per cent growth between the 1960s and 1990s.
He said there is a misguided perception in the world of Cambodia as a poor, underdeveloped country recovering from war and genocide. “But this is far behind Cambodia and almost 50 years ago. Now it is a lower-middle-income country and expected to attain upper-middle-income status by 2030, or even earlier by 2028,” Anthony said.
According to him, some of the advantages for Cambodia include 100 per cent ownership of companies for foreign investors except in some categories such as cigarette manufacturing, movie production, rice milling, gemstone mining and processing. Being a highly dollarised economy, it eliminates the risk of sharp exchange rate adjustments and prevents capital flight, he said.
Other advantages include low corporate tax, minimum capital requirement of just $1,000 to set up a company, membership in free trade agreements and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and having a youthful population of around eight million under 25 years, Anthony said, adding that “Cambodia is perhaps the safest place on earth to live in.”
In another presentation, Edward Lee, CEO of Prince Real Estate said that the investment market has shifted in favour of Cambodia, compared to Vietnam, Malaysia and Myanmar which are losing some of the advantages due to various reasons. “Cambodia is now as accessible as Dubai for foreign investors and as exciting as Thailand with a thriving entertainment industry,” he said.
“What we need to do is to educate people outside (about Cambodia’s distinctive advantages). Get up and talk to the investors,” Lee suggested. He also said that investment-related property buying is the biggest real estate market driver as more than 70 per cent of the buying is investment-related.
“Cambodia is also the most liberal and investment-friendly country in Southeast Asia. What we need to do is to showcase more varieties of real estate products,” Lee said.
In another presentation titled “Overview of Landed Property Market in Cambodia,” Chrek Soknim, President of Cambodia Valuers and Estate Agents Association (CVEA) said this is the right time to buy property in Phnom Penh including un sub-urban areas. “In future, the prices will surely increase. It is also good that there is no demarcation of agricultural or industrial land in Cambodia. So, you can invest in any landed property safely,” he said.