July 2, 2011

European Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia

[Economics Today Magazine]

Dominique Catry
The European Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (Eurocham Cambodia) officially set up shop in Cambodia at a ceremony on June 2.

The establishment of Eurocham is seen as a significant sign that investors from the European Union have increased confidence in Cambodia and recognize the business opportunities that exists in the Kingdom.

The Eurocham, which aims to assist European investors who want to explore Cambodia’s business potential, has received support from the French-Cambodian Chamber of Commerce (CCFC in French), the British Business Association of Cambodia (BBAC) and the German Business Group Cambodia.

Dominique Catry, CEO and President of Comin Khmere and a founding member of CCFC, has been elected president of the Eurocham. Much like the European Union itself, Eurocham Cambodia will have a rotating presidency supported by the founding chambers of commerce, while other organizational structures will be developed this year to ensure that all 27 European nations have a presence in Cambodia.

“Since Europe has many faces but is increasingly growing closer together, we realize that it is time to upgrade the representation of the business communities coming from today’s 27 EU member states,” says Catry.

As Eurocham has been established to represent European businesses and entrepreneurs living and working in Cambodia, its mission is to function as a significant resource for issues related to trade, investment and business information in the country. Its objective is to act on behalf of European business organizations and individuals for business facilitation, regulatory exchanges and dispute resolutions as well as to promote European economic and cultural relations with Cambodia and vice versa.

“The basic role of Eurocham is to promote the flow of trade and investment between Cambodia and European countries especially to attract more European investment into Cambodia” said Catry, a long-term resident of Cambodia.

Catry, who has been doing business for many years in Cambodia, said he’s not sure how European investors feel about the Kingdom’s investment climate but feels that investors are still hesitant to come to Cambodia. “The image of Cambodia is not yet at a high level as they still do not have a real understanding of the situation in Cambodia,” he said.

However, Thomas Sterling, Vice- President of Eurocham and managing Director of Sterling Project Management, believes that Eurocham will be able to deliver a coordinated approach for existing individual business associations with a greater reach to European markets and broader support for European businesses operating in Cambodia.

European interests in Cambodia cover a wide range of sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, financial services, media, architecture and construction, real estate, telecoms, legal services, accounting and retail, all of which provide employment for a large number of Cambodians in skilled and professional occupations.

Catry believes that Cambodia has a lot of potential to attract EU investors to its agricultural sector. “The agro-industry should be the most attractive sector which will be introduced to European countries,” he said.

Eurocham Cambodia is launched at a time when the EU’s Rule of Origin has recently been amended, allowing for a greater value of imported materials as input in locally-manufactured goods. Cambodian-made products— especially garment in which imported fabric represents more than half of its value— have extensively benefited from the “Everything but Arms” agreement, which allows for unlimited, tax free access to the EU, a 495-million people market.

According to a statement released by the chamber, in the first three months of 2011 alone, Cambodian exports such as garment products for Europe have increased by up to 47 percent compared to 2010.


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