American companies are set to explore investment opportunities in Cambodia’s promising sectors in the coming months, indicating strengthening diplomatic and economic ties between the two nations, especially after Cambodia’s hosting of the ASEAN Summit in 2022.

While addressing workers from the garment, textile and footwear sector in Phnom Penh on October 3, Prime Minister Hun Manet highlighted that he had engaged with 58 leading US firms, such as Boeing, Pfizer, Abbott, Visa, MasterCard, Chevron and Conoco Philip, during the Cambodia-US Business Forum in New York City last month. This forum ran on the sidelines of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78), where bilateral talks also took place.

“In a business matching event, over 30 of our local firms directly connected with US companies to share information and forge business relationships. Consequently, numerous American firms will soon be visiting Cambodia to uncover potential investment avenues,” Manet said.

Kouch Pheng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), said the forum aimed to boost trade, investment and economic rapport between the two countries.

“The US is one of Cambodia’s largest export markets and a significant foreign investment source. With Cambodia’s strategies and vision to ascend to an upper-middle income country by 2030 and a high-income one by 2050, we foresee numerous opportunities.

“This includes high-quality American-standard education, diversifying from traditional industries such as garments and footwear and enhancing the private sector. For this transformation, Cambodia requires further skills development, expertise and financial know-how,” Pheng said.

Manet recalled that the US and Cambodia share a rich history of alliance and collaboration, starting from their diplomatic inception in 1950.

“Economic relations between our nations have thrived due to consistent diplomatic advancements. Two-way trade peaked at $13.5 billion in 2022, with the US remaining Cambodia’s top export market, especially for garments, textiles, footwear and travel goods,” he said.

Regarding investment dynamics, Manet said that although the US stands as a global investment powerhouse, its foreign direct investment (FDIs) in Cambodia has been comparatively modest.

“FDI surged from $225 million in 2010 to $893 million in 2022. Firms like Ford, Coca-Cola, Tiffany and General Electric [GE] have recently invested in Cambodia, capitalising on its expanding market and consistent income growth of its citizens,” he said.

“With a vision to be a high-income nation by 2050, the government has introduced its Pentagonal Strategy-Phase I, which outlines Cambodia’s socio-economic growth for the next quarter-century,“ Manet said, adding that the strategy focuses on five priorities: people, infrastructure, water, electricity and technology, with particular emphasis on human capital and digital technology development to navigate the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, and propelling socio-economic growth.