China and Japan drive surging investments in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, NNA – Approved investments in Cambodia jumped almost 15 percent in 2018, buoyed by planned capital injection in the country’s first expressway by China and record-high commitments by Japanese companies.

The combined figure of planned investments from domestic and foreign companies rose 14.7% from 2017 to $6.5 billion last year, according to data from the Council for the Development of Cambodia obtained by NNA.

Chinese investment surged more than two-fold to $3.9 billion, accounting for nearly 60 percent of the total. The $1.9 billion expressway project, which links the capital to Sihanoukville port, pushed up the overall figure.

The number of investment projects by Chinese companies also increased to about 150 from 82 in 2017, boosted by those in the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, which is being developed by a China-Cambodia joint venture, the data show.

Investment from China used to account for about 30 percent of the total, but Chinese capital inflows into the Southeast Asian nation apparently accelerated after Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s visit to Phnom Penh in 2016.

Japan is the second biggest overseas investor, accounting for about 10 percent, as commitments skyrocketed 14-fold to $889 million with eight projects.

Domestic firms made up nearly 30 percent of the approved investments in 2018. According to the data, the environment for domestic investment was helped by the government’s renewed commitment to economic stimulus policies after the ruling party won a clean sweep in lower house elections in July.