The Cambodia Chamber of Commerce yesterday moved to allay fears that ongoing political turmoil could affect the business community, saying no local firms have raised concerns over the issue.
Opposition CNRP leader Kem Sokha was arrested on Sunday over allegations of treason in a speech made to supporters in Australia in 2013. But Nguon Meng Tech, director-general of the CCC, said none of his members talked about political tensions at a routine meeting with local business leaders and the Council for Development of Cambodia yesterday.
Instead, most of them raised issues relating to their business performance over the past year and discussed what they plan to do next. “I did not hear anything from the private sector over the political situation. Most of them are more concerned with finding a way to improve their business,” said Meng Tech.
“For me, I don’t have any concern either. We all have to respect the rule of law in the country. Our Chamber of Commerce is concerned about finding ways to attract more and more businesspeople and investors to invest here, in order to create jobs for our people and boost the economy.”
In Channy, president and managing director of ACLEDA Bank, also said it was business as usual. “Our bank mainly works with local SMEs and I haven’t seen anything strange with business operations over the past few days. The number of customers taking loans and making deposits is the same,” he said. “Neither have I seen any big withdrawals from our customers, so everything is operating normally.”
Speaking at a meeting with garment workers on Sunday, Prime Minister Hun Sen accused the US of being a “third hand” in providing assistance to the CNRP to invoke regime change in Cambodia. Hun Sen also called on foreign countries not to interfere in Cambodia’s domestic affairs, urging the US to clarify its position on the controversy.
David Van, executive director of Deewee Management Consultants, said the ruling party will work to make the country as good an environment as possible for the business community, although business activity does normally slow down during election years.
“It’s too early to notice, but there is a cyclical phenomenon in Cambodia that sees business slow down in pre-electoral periods, with people pausing to wait and see. Business picks up again post-election, once the political dust settles. I firmly believe the ruling party will be careful not to have a negative mood affecting the business community,” said Van.
Anthony Galliano, who is a foreign investor in Cambodia and CEO of Cambodian Investment Management, agreed that the political situation has not had a knock-on effect on business so far. “We have seen no noticeable change in business sentiment in the country, both from current customers and those prospects seeking to come in. Indications are it will be business as usual,” he said.