EuroCham Cambodia: Interview With H.E. Cham Nimul, Minister Of Commerce

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EuroCham Cambodia recently interviewed H.E. Cham Nimul, Minister of Commerce, in their weekly newsletter. The interview touched on a number of different topics, including her first 100 days in office and how she sees the future of EU-Cambodia relations.

Minister of Commerce delivers opening remarks at ASEAN-Cambodia Business Summit
H.E. Cham Nimul, Minister of Commerce, at the ASEAN-Cambodia Business Summit 2023.

EuroCham: Congratulations on your appointment as Minister of Commerce. Could you share with us some of your most memorable moments from your first 100 days in office?

H.E. Cham Nimul: “100 days might sound fleeting, but in the whirlwind of this ministry, it feels like years compressed into exhilarating growth! Witnessing the Pentagonal Strategy’s gears shift into action has been a privilege. The first 100 days as Minister of Commerce have been a journey filled with significant achievements and learning experiences. I could mention the steady transformation of the Ministry of Commerce to make it fit-for-purpose for the challenges of today and tomorrow. Just to name one aspect, the digital transformation not only will facilitate easier business operations but also attracts foreign investment by showcasing Cambodia’s commitment to embracing modern solutions. Another memorable aspect was the enthusiastic reception from our international partners, affirming Cambodia’s robust position in global trade. Meetings with various stakeholders, from local entrepreneurs to international investors, development partners have reinforced my belief in Cambodia’s potential. These interactions have been instrumental in understanding the diverse needs of the business community and tailoring our policies to support sustainable economic growth. The synergy between the government’s pro-business stance and the dynamic business environment has been inspiring, and it’s this synergy that will drive our future successes. I cannot not mention the Launching of the Eurocham 2024 White Book. Your dedication to improving the business environment resonated deeply, and it solidified my conviction: Together, we’re building a business-friendly Cambodia that champions growth for all.”

EuroCham: Cambodia certainly has a wonderful story to tell, for many reasons, and not just from a business perspective. When you’re meeting stakeholders or partners who may not know much about the country, how do you tell the story of Cambodia and how do you sell the country as an ideal trading partner?

H.E. Cham Nimul: “Introducing Cambodia to new stakeholders is always an opportunity to showcase our unique position as a blend of rich cultural heritage and dynamic economic policies. Under the Pentagonal Strategy, with its emphasis on infrastructure and technology, Cambodia is poised as a future-ready partner in the global market. Our strategic location in the heart of ASEAN, combined with initiatives aimed at improving infrastructure like roads and electricity, positions us as a gateway for trade in the region. Recent investment missions from countries like France and Germany, and insights from EuroCham’s White Book 2024, highlight our commitment to fostering a business-friendly environment. This book, a compilation of policy recommendations from various sectors, is a testament to our collaborative approach in refining our regulatory framework. By addressing the recommendations in the White Book, we’re not just improving the business climate; we’re also signaling to the world that Cambodia is open, receptive, and adaptive to the needs of international businesses. This proactive approach is how we tell the story of Cambodia – a nation that’s not just rich in history and culture, but also ambitious and forward-thinking in its economic aspirations.

Forget sterile statistics – picture this: a sunrise paints Angkor Wat in breathtaking hues, young minds huddle in co-working spaces, adopting the next tech marvel. This is Cambodia – where ancient wisdom meets modern dynamism. We are ASEAN’s rising tiger, a stable haven with a young, skilled workforce and competitive costs. But what truly sets us apart? Our people. Their warmth, their unwavering work ethic, their infectious zest for life – these are the threads that weave Cambodia into the ideal trading partner. We are not just a market, we are your neighbors, your partners in a shared journey of prosperity.”

EuroCham: At EuroCham, one of our core goals is to attract more business from EU member states. Would you mind sharing some of your strategy for improving EU business relations?

H.E. Cham Nimul: “Strengthening bridges with the EU is high on our agenda. We’re simplifying investment procedures with the implementation of our new Law on Investment, especially in the technology, energy, and infrastructure sectors and aligning regulations with international standards. The recent investment missions from France and Germany were testaments to this fruitful collaboration. But we’re not done yet. EuroCham’s expertise in navigating the EU landscape is invaluable. Let’s leverage it to unlock even greater potential for European businesses in Cambodia. Imagine trade missions tailored to your specific needs, streamlined communication channels, and joint initiatives that foster innovation. That’s the future we can build together – a future where “EU-Cambodia partnership” becomes synonymous with mutual success. Finally, our strategy to attract more EU business hinges on leveraging Cambodia’s strategic location in ASEAN and our commitment to sustainable development. The actions outlined in the White Book 2024 are ideas that we want to consider even more going forward. These recommendations will be instrumental in fine-tuning our regulatory environment to be more conducive to EU investments.”

EuroCham: We have also worked on closing the gender gap in the workplace, an issue that you have also worked on extensively. What more needs to be done to ensure women work on a level playing field and have access to business resources they need to succeed?

H.E. Cham Nimul: “The journey towards gender equality in the workplace is ongoing. Initiatives like Neary Rattanak V and the gender committees in each ministry have laid a strong foundation. However, to ensure a level playing field, we need to focus on enhancing access to education and training for women, promoting female entrepreneurship, and encouraging more women in leadership roles across sectors. Our policies must continue to evolve to address these areas effectively.

Women are the backbone of our economy, and their empowerment fuels our shared success. We’re tackling access to finance through microfinance initiatives, providing business skills training, and promoting female leadership through mentorship programs. Women are the beating heart of our economy, and their empowerment is not just a moral imperative, it’s a strategic investment. We’re tackling access to finance through microfinance schemes, equipping women with business skills through targeted training programs, and nurturing their leadership potential through mentorship initiatives. But this journey requires all hands on deck. EuroCham, I urge you to be champions of change ! Seemingly small steps pave the way for a level playing field, where women stand beside men as architects of Cambodia’s economic future.”

EuroCham: You have discussed interest in forming a Business Advisory Council at our previous meetings – a council that would involve input from the private sector. How is this progressing and what role do you see for the private sector in shaping policy?

H.E. Cham Nimul: “The Business Advisory Council is shaping up to be an innovative platform for collaboration, comprising three key segments: the private sector (with representation from various associations and industries), legal advisory bodies (including both local and international business law experts), and academia (for sharing best practices and policy development). This tripartite composition is crucial for ensuring a holistic approach to policy-making, where diverse perspectives and expertise converge. The private sector’s role in the council is particularly significant, as their insights directly influence the crafting of practical and effective economic policies. The legal advisory bodies provide essential guidance on regulatory compliance and international trade norms, while academia contributes cutting-edge research and thought leadership. By fostering a forum where dialogue is encouraged and diverse viewpoints are valued, we aim to develop policies that truly reflect the market realities and the needs of businesses.

This council isn’t just a wish list – it’s a vital cog in our shared vision. Private sector insights are the oil that keeps the engine of progress running smoothly, and I envision this council as a vibrant platform where we co-create policies that benefit both the government and the private sector. We aim to create a forum where dialogue is encouraged, and diverse perspectives are valued, leading to policies that reflect the realities of the market and the needs of businesses. From streamlining regulations to fostering innovation ecosystems, chambers of commerce and business associations expertise will ensure our policies are not just pro-business, but business-driven. This approach aligns with the Pentagonal Strategy’s emphasis on efficiency and good governance, ensuring that the government’s actions are responsive and adaptable to the evolving business landscape.”

Closing Words From H.E. Cham Nimul

“I would like to extend my heartfelt wishes to the entire EuroCham Cambodia community. The past year has been a testament to our resilience, innovation, and collaborative spirit. Together, we have navigated the complexities of the global market, embraced new technologies, and worked towards creating a more inclusive and sustainable business environment.

As we step into 2024, let’s carry this spirit of partnership forward. For 2024, I am filled with optimism. With the continued implementation of the Pentagonal Strategy, I am confident that we will see even greater strides in our collective journey towards economic growth and prosperity. I look forward to our continued partnership, as we harness the power of collaboration to unlock new opportunities and elevate Cambodia’s position on the global stage. I envision a year where the EU-Cambodia partnership blossoms, where women take their rightful place at the forefront of economic leadership, and where innovation takes flight, fueled by the combined passion of government and private sector. May the new year bring renewed energy, success, and prosperity to you all. Let’s continue to work hand-in-hand to create a vibrant and thriving business community in Cambodia. Here’s to a fruitful and prosperous 2024!”

This interview was conducted by Brian Badzmierowski, Communications Coordinator of EuroCham Cambodia, and is republished from EuroCham’s weekly newsletter.

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