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  • As small, open economy, Cambodia has enjoyed robust growth in recent years, benefiting from a stable macroeconomic environment, efficiency improvements, a strategic location in the world’s fastest-growing region and a young population. With continued impressive growth, the outlook is positive and medium-term prospects are favorable (International Monetary Fund, 2017)
  • 12 percent of GDP (World Travel & Tourism Council, 2014)
    4.5 million tourists (Ministry of Tourism, 2014)
    $3.2 billion in international tourism receipts (World Bank, 2014)
  • 9 percent of GDP (Council for the Development of Cambodia, 2015)
    2,636 projects worth $8.5 billion approved (Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, 2016)
    Construction and real-estate sector growth fueled by significant foreign direct investment and other capital inflows (International Monetary Fund, 2017)
  • Stable with real GDP growth projected to remain robust at around 7 percent over the next few years before moderating to 6 percent in the medium term, strong domestic fundamentals supporting investment such as annual average inflation of 1-4 percent in recent years, a stable exchange rate and rising international reserves (International Monetary Fund, 2017)
  • $5.7 billion in garment exports (International Labour Organization, 2015)
    700,000 workers in 1,200 garment businesses
    Manufacturing exports seen benefiting from extended preferential US trade
    access and product diversification (International Monetary Fund, 2017)
  • 30 percent of GDP, half total employment (International Monetary Fund, 2017)
    Rice production is increasing steadily, making Cambodia important exporter. Other important food crops are corn, soybean, mung bean, cassava, mango, pineapple, jackfruit, durian, rambutan and banana.
    Production of sugarcane, rubber and palm oil is expanding significantly. (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2017)
FAQ
Business Startup
Business Startup

Are you considering starting a new business in Cambodia but need more information?

Look no further. You’ll find everything you need right here. From how to open a business in Cambodia, necessary licenses, calculating and paying tax right through to how to close your company when you’re finished.

If you can’t find your answer here, please kindly contact ALPHA International Corporation Ltd.

+ How could AEC membership affect my business start-up?

Cambodia officially joined the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in December 2015. While it is still early to assess the impact the new membership has had on the country, we believe in the following years your startup could benefit from:

  • Access to a market of over 600 million people (or almost 10% of the world population) in the ASEAN region.
  • Lower transaction costs on trading, the import of materials by the elimination (or lowering) of tariffs and non-tariff barriers, as well as on the export of our final products.
  • Advancements in processes for customs, logistics, and transport connectivity for trading.
  • Access to skilled labor from other countries, as well as educational and comprehensive capacity building programs to train our existing staff.
  • Access to ASEAN capital investment opportunities.
  • Exchange of knowledge and improvement of processes to implement Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), HACCP, Intellectual Property Rights (IRP), etc.
  • With AEC membership we will see proper regulations and all the proper taxation put in place, making importing and exporting and other business-related activities much clearer and easier to understand. It will actually lower the price of a lot of goods here. For example, Cambodia recently abolished the estimated tax regime, forcing all enterprises to join the real regime.
  • The country has recently signed Double Tax Agreements (DTA) with Singapore, China and Brunei, while a new DTA with Thailand is expected very soon.
+ How fast are business start-ups increasing in Cambodia?
  • Cambodia also saw a 4 percent increase in new registered companies for the first three months of 2015.
  • In 2014, almost 4,000 businesses registered with the Ministry of Commerce, marking a 29% increase on 2013.
  • In addition, trademarks registered with the Ministry of Commerce rose from 4,199 in 2015 to 4,685 last year. The rise in registered trademarks follows Cambodia’s accession to the Madrid Protocol in 2015.
  • The total number of active trademarks in the country exceeds 47,000.
  • There were 513,759 non-street businesses in Cambodia as of 2014, however, only 10,565 of these are registered.
  • Foreign firms are mostly operated by Chinese, South Koreans, Japanese and Vietnamese who are carrying out business in the garment, footwear, agriculture, agro-industry, tourism, construction and real estate sectors.
  • 5,128 of the registered businesses operating in Cambodia are foreign owned. 2,028 of these are Vietnamese owned while 382 are US or European owned.
  • These increases may also reflect the tightening of business registration requirements by the Cambodian Government and compliance with these laws across the Cambodian market.
  • However, Cambodia is considered number 180 out of 190 countries on the Ease of Starting a Business, according to the World Bank Group, so challenges could be significant.
  • Frequent challenges include a lack of access to information on regulations and licenses & permits needed for a specific industry and a lack of skilled labour.
+ Why should I set up my business in Cambodia rather than neighboring countries?
  • It boasts a relatively simple tax system offering several incentives, especially in select industries and those operating from a Special Economic Zone.
  • Companies can be 100% foreign-owned.
  • Offers duty-free avenues into the US and EU.
  • Large, cheap workforce.
  • Dollarised currency.
  • Easy for businesses to move money in and out of the country.
  • A hub for foreign businesses located in the heart of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
+ What do I need to officially open a business in Cambodia?
  • A valid visa, work permit and a bank account with a minimum balance of USD$1,000 (4 million riel) – you may withdraw this as soon as the business is officially established.
  • A certificate of good health.
  • More often than not, a police report from your home country identifying you as a person(s) of good standing with no history of criminal activity.
+ How do i go about opening a business in Cambodia and how long does it take?
  • To register a company in Cambodia the name must also be registered with the MoC.
  • To receive the company’s constitutive documents—which include the certificate of incorporation, the Articles of Association, and the business license—you will need to register with the Ministry of Commerce (MoC). The process can now be carried online here.
  • Within 15 calendar days of having registered with the MOC, the new enterprise must register with the GDT. At the GDT, you will obtain the tax patent and the VAT certificate of the new company.
  • Finally, all enterprises must pay a visit to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MLVT), which registers the company under the Labour Law, provides workbooks for Khmer employees and work permits and employment cards for foreign workers. If the new company has more than eight employees, they must also be registered under the National Social Security Fund.
  • The World Bank latest estimation is that it takes 99 days for the whole process to be completed.

For more information, read our latest article on the subject.

+ What licences do i need to operate a business in Cambodia?
  • Newly established businesses also need to obtain the necessary licences in order to operate.
  • Licences are issued by the relevant ministry. For example, a publishing company would need a licence from the Cambodian Ministry of Information; while a business aimed at tourists would need to apply to the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism.
  • Licences are renewed annually.
  • The Cambodian Ministry of Labour must also be contacted and given a Declaration of the Opening of Business before operations start or within the first 30 days of operation if the business has less than eight employees.
+ What taxes do I have to pay and when?
  • Within 15 calendar days of registering with the MoC, businesses must register with the General Department of Taxation (DGT) to receive a taxpayer’s identification number (TIN).
  • Registering as a taxpayer will cost you $500 and $650, for a half-year and a full-year respectively.
  • At the GDT, you will obtain the tax patent and the VAT certificate of the new company. If all is in order, it will take the GDT between two and four weeks to issue the tax patent and VAT certificate.
  • Various taxes are also payable each month, usually on the 20th. They are the tax on salary; the prepayment of profit tax (equal to 1% of turnover); and VAT (equal to the total VAT charged to your customers minus VAT payable to your suppliers).
  • For more information, read our latest article on the subject.
+ Are there compulsory audit requirements in Cambodia?
  • By law, if a Cambodian based company fulfils two or more of the following three criteria, they must have their financial statements audited by a registered external auditor. This must be completed within six months after the end of the financial year.
  • The first prerequisite is if revenue of that business is more than $750,000 annually; Secondly, if the value of total assets of the business is more than $500,000; And, thirdly, if the company employs more than 100 members of staff.
  • More often than not, a police report from your home country identifying you as a person(s) of good standing with no history of criminal activity.
+ What types of tax audits might your business be subject to?
  • There are three types of audit in Cambodia: a desk audit; a limited audit; and a comprehensive audit.
  • Desk audits merely re-examine information already submitted to the General Department of Taxation (GDT) and involve no visit from tax auditors.
  • Limited audits are more in-depth than desk audits, with the option of tax auditors going to the company’s premises to examine additional documents.
  • Comprehensive audits are more thorough than the other two and may uncover potential tax exposures through examination of any area of the business.
  • Desk audits and limited audits are carried out by the local Khan (district) branch of the GDT.
  • If the business is classified as a “Large Taxpayer” both desk audits and limited audits are carried out by the Department of Large Taxpayers (DLT).
  • Large taxpayers include Qualified Investment Projects, branches of foreign enterprises or multi-national companies, and any other enterprise with annual turnover in excess of KHR1,000M (around $250,000).
  • All comprehensive audits are carried out by the Department of Enterprise Audit (DEA).
  • If taxes have been underpaid, a notice of tax reassessment is issued outlining the outstanding sum, plus a penalty of up to 40 percent on the owed sum and interest of two percent per month.
  • Businesses have 30 days to appeal and provide evidence for the tax authority to evaluate.
+ How do I close my company?
  • It is not recommended you shut up your business and just leave Cambodia.
  • The CDC states companies must declare themselves bankrupt or formally dissolve; otherwise you may face legal action and hefty fines.
  • To close your business, first send a letter to the Cambodian Department of Taxation declaring your intent to close.
  • Within two months, an auditor will address outstanding taxes.
  • A certificate of closure is then issued, which must be taken to the MoC, who then issue a Certificate of Closure.
  • As with registering a business, the process for dissolving a company can now also be done online. For more information, click here.
+ How quickly can I begin business in Cambodia?
  • Research conducted in 2017 by the World Bank in conjunction with the International Finance Corporation revealed it takes an average of 99 days to go through the nine procedures required to incorporate and register a new firm in Cambodia, and costs on average $615.
  • Many business owners have said the process can be quicker – from just one week to a month, especially for small and mid-sized companies where there is less paperwork involved.
  • The process can go very smoothly if you’re well prepared.
  • Doing everything through yourself might save you costs, but having professional advice, an attorney to review your documents, and a Khmer speaker can simplify the process greatly.
+ How do I properly evaluate a business in Cambodia?
  • Looking at assets is a good starting point, such as machinery, fixtures, inventory, etc.
  • But also consider intangible assets such as customer relationships and the employees.
  • A potential buyer should also estimate a company’s earning potential.
  • Is the market saturated, or is there still a niche to be filled and can the business grow and develop?
  • How strong is the competition?
  • What does it offer that sets it apart from competitors?
  • If the business has an earnings track record, it’s easier to project the likely future revenue stream.
+ Make sure you get the help you need – get local experts
  • Research conducted in 2017 by the World Bank in conjunction with the International Finance Corporation revealed it takes an average of 99 days to go through the nine procedures required to incorporate and register a new firm in Cambodia, and costs on average $615.
  • Many business owners have said the process can be quicker – from just one week to a month, especially for small and mid-sized companies where there is less paperwork involved.
  • The process can go very smoothly if you’re well prepared.
  • Doing everything through yourself might save you costs, but having professional advice, an attorney to review your documents, and a Khmer speaker can simplify the process greatly.
+ Make sure you build good business relationships
  • Take time to build strong relationships with all your business partners (suppliers, distributors, partners, officials etc) based on trust and mutual understanding before undertaking any substantive business start-up in Cambodia.
  • Recognise those who seek long-term business prospects and those seeking only to use you for a “quick buck”.
  • Find entrepreneurs with appropriate industry experience.
  • But ensure they share your future vision.
+ Do your research into the Cambodian marketplace
  • It’s a good idea to spend some time living in Cambodia before making any major investment decisions.
  • Carry out feasibility and market entry studies ahead of setting up in Cambodia.
  • Despite the fact the Cambodia joined the ranks of lower-middle income countries in 2016, you need to keep in mind that the country remains an emerging market and may behave differently to more established markets.
  • Make the effort to understand not only the market, but also the culture and people.
+ Make sure your business can offer 'value' to Cambodia
  • Foreign investors should not just be looking to make a “quick buck” in Cambodia.
  • Your businesses commitment to the country will, in turn, help sustain your business.
  • Bring employment opportunities for locals.
  • Demonstrate the benefits you are able to bring and the Cambodian Government will welcome your investment as a Qualified Investment Project (QIP).
Cambodian Visas & Work Permits
If you want to work or set up a business in Cambodia, first thing you will need is a valid Visa and a Work Permit.
+ Do your research into the Cambodian marketplace
  • It’s a good idea to spend some time living in Cambodia before making any major investment decisions.
  • Carry out feasibility and market entry studies ahead of setting up in Cambodia.
  • Despite the fact the Cambodia joined the ranks of lower-middle income countries in 2016, you need to keep in mind that the country remains an emerging market and may behave differently to more established markets.
  • Make the effort to understand not only the market, but also the culture and people.
+ How can I get a Visa suitable for working in Cambodia?
  • The regular E-type visa has been split into several sub-types, including the EB visa, the most common type. It can be purchased upon entry to Cambodia for $35 but is valid for only one month.
  • Once you’re in the country, this can be renewed indefinitely on a 3, 6 or 12 monthly basis (most local travel agencies can arrange this). Keep in mind that visas shorter than half a year are single entry.
  • Currently, a one-month EB extension costs $50, three months is $80, six months is $160, and one year is $290 when purchased through an agent.
  • In August 2017, police officials at the Department of Immigration confirmed that it will become compulsory for all foreigners to obtain an official work permit/employment card to be eligible to apply for a long-term extension to their EB visa (e.g. six months and one year)
+ How can I get a valid Work Permit in Cambodia?
  • The regular E-type visa has been split into several sub-types, including the EB visa, the most common type. In August 2017, police officials at the Department of Immigration confirmed that it would become compulsory for all foreigners to obtain an official work permit/employment card to be eligible to apply for a long-term extension to their EB visa.
  • Work permits are issued by the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and are valid for one year. An online system (fwcms.mlvt.gov.kh) was established on September 2016 to aid in the registering for work permits. Work permit/employment cards, which are two separate documents but can be applied for at the same time and considered as one application, costs $100 per year. The fee for the visa application process is $33. Applicants must have also undertaken a straightforward health check at the Ministry, which costs $25. You can pay $60 to an agent to get your health certificate without going to the Ministry.
  • The official period for renewal of a work permit/employment card is between January and March each year, although the Ministry of Labour has yet to confirm the exact details surrounding late payments.
  • Companies must submit their Foreign Worker Quota Requests to the Ministry of Labour between September and November each year.
  • The online system has received substantial criticism, especially from foreigners frustrated with having their applications refused. Many of these are either self-employed or freelancing, although it is technically possible to successfully obtain a work permit/employment card for these types of workers.
  • Individuals can get help with the application process from agents such as ‘Call Kim’ (chornkimhoun@yahoo.com or 092 256 388), who charges a fee per application that varies on a case-by-case basis.
  • This information is not set in stone and can vary from situation to situation. Some people have a smooth and painless application, others do not.
+ Will my employer organise my Work Permit for me?
  • The obligation is on the employer to register employees, assist in arranging work permits and even withhold and pay their own income taxes.
  • The same is true for contracts with freelancers or consultants.
Cambodian Business Classifications
There are various Business Classifications available in Cambodia here we help you understand how to classify your business.
+ Want to start a Cambodian-based business alone?
  • You need Sole Proprietorship.
  • You wish to own and operate all of the assets of the business.
  • As sole proprietor, you take the entirety of any profits but are also liable for any losses and debts.
  • This is a popular option for many small owner-operated businesses (restaurants and bars for example).
  • Sole Proprietorship offers some tax advantages. For example, according to legal firm DFDL, sole proprietors whose turnover does not exceed on average $5,000 per month will not be required to pay any tax – be it corporate or patent tax.
  • With the recent overhaul of the tax system, and the abolishment of the estimated regime, sole proprietors whose annual turnover exceeds $5,000 per month, on average, will now be required to charge VAT, file monthly and annual tax returns, collect and pay certain withholding taxes and be subjected to tax audits whereas previously they would probably have negotiated their taxes upfront with the tax officer (under the estimated tax regime).
+ Want to start a Cambodian-based business as a Partner?
  • Cambodian based partnerships have two possible options for official classification: The General Partnership and the Limited Partnership:
  • A General Partnership is similar to a sole proprietorship, but your business involves two or more people combining their efforts and/or assets.
  • You and your partners carry the same legal liabilities when it comes to debts and obligations.
  • Partnerships are a popular type of business entity for professionals such as doctors.
  • A Limited Partnership, on the other hand, means that one or more of the partners in your business merely contribute capital to the business while the other partners retain the general designation.
  • By becoming a limited partner you are liable only to the extent of the capital you have contributed.
  • If you are seeking to have, or to be, a silent partner, then a limited partnership may be the most appropriate option for you.
+ Want to start a Cambodian-based Company?
  • A Limited Liability Company offers limited liability for you and your shareholders, which can number up to 30. This classification shall protect you from personal liability for any debts that the business may incur, as it has its own distinct legal identity and exists independently of its shareholders.
  • The three types of limited liability companies available are: Private Limited Company, Single Member Limited Company, and Public Limited Company.
  • A Private Limited Company is a form of limited company that may have from 2 to 30 shareholders.
  • When a Private Limited Company is established by one person, it is known as a “Single Member Limited Company.”
  • A Public Limited Company (PLC) is possible also, now that the Cambodian Stock Exchange is operative. A PLC is authorised by law to issue securities (shares) to the public. Before your company can be considered for flotation on the stock exchange, you must show it adheres to various financial and accounting standards, and demonstrate that it has set out the corporate structure in a memorandum and articles of association.
+ How can my foreign-owned company set up operations in Cambodia?
  • Foreign Companies have three possible options for official classification: As a Subsidiary, a Branch Office or a Representative Office:
  • Subsidiary is possible only if your business is a limited and locally incorporated company with at least 51% of the shares held by the foreign parent company.
  • In order to create a subsidiary, a memorandum and articles of association must be provided thus ensuring the limited liability of the parent company.
  • A Branch Office is possible if your business is an extension of the parent company thus maintaining liability with the parent company.
  • A branch office may conduct business activities in Cambodia in the sectors in which it is registered.
  • It can buy and sell goods, sign contracts, build things, render services, and generally do everything that a regular Khmer business can do.
  • In this case the parent company is liable for all the branch’s debts and obligations.
  • A Representative Office, on the other hand, offers you a more tentative step into the Cambodian market, allowing investors to test the waters before committing fully.
  • A representative office is not allowed to buy and sell goods or offer paid services to customers.
  • It can, however, gather information for the parent company and enter into contracts on its behalf; and source but not purchase local goods and services.
Cambodian Company Registration
+ How do I register my business in Cambodia?
  • In order to register any business with individual shareholders, a valid visa must be obtained for the Chairman or CEO who will represent the company.
  • One of the shareholders will need to have a local bank account and deposit the minimum capital requirement of $1,300. The local bank will issue a confirmation letter, which must be provided to the Ministry of Commerce as part of the company incorporation process. This can generally be withdrawn once the confirmation letter has been issued.
  • Note that although in law the minimum capital requirement is $1,000, the Ministry of Commerce in practice requires $1,300 as a minimum, and furthermore the Tax Department generally requires at least $5,000 in minimum capital. Therefore it is best to state a minimum capital of $5,000 in the Articles of Association, despite the initial requirement of only $1,300 needed to fulfil the bank confirmation letter requirement for the Ministry of Commerce.
  • There are no restrictions to a business being 100 percent foreign owned.
  • This is not to be confused with Cambodian land ownership, in which a foreigner can generally own a maximum of 49 percent. However, it is possible for a foreigner to have a long-term lease.
  • To register a company in Cambodia the name must also be registered with the MoC.
  • To receive the company’s constitutive documents—which include the certificate of incorporation, the Articles of Association, and the business license—you will need to register with the Ministry of Commerce (MoC). The process can now be carried out online here.
  • Within 15 calendar days of having registered with the MOC, the new enterprise must register with the GDT. At the GDT, you will obtain the tax patent and the VAT certificate of the new company.
  • Under Prakas No. 496—which came out in 2016 and abrogated a previous and much controversial Prakas—the chairman of the board of directors of the enterprise is not obliged to pay a visit to the GDT in order to receive the Patent Tax Certificate and/or the VAT Registration Certificate and/or the Tax Registration Card—as was the case under Prakas No .1139. Instead, he or she can issue a Power of Attorney to authorize any member of the board of directors to be photographed and have his fingerprints taken on his/her behalf.
  • Finally, all enterprises must pay a visit to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MLVT), which registers the company under the Labour Law, provides workbooks for Khmer employees and work permits and employment cards for foreign workers. If the new company has more than eight employees, they must also be registered under the National Social Security Fund.
  • The World Bank latest estimation is that it takes 99 days for the whole process to be completed.

For more information, read our latest article on the subject.

+ How long will it take to register my business in Cambodia?
  • Research conducted in 2017 by the World Bank in conjunction with the International Finance Corporation revealed it takes an average of 99 days to go through the nine procedures required to incorporate and register a new firm in Cambodia, and costs on average $615.
  • Many business owners have said the process can be quicker – from just one week to a month, especially for small and mid-sized companies where there is less paperwork involved.
  • The process can go very smoothly if you’re well prepared.
+ Company Registration Top Tips
  • To shorten your application times and possibly reduce administration costs, know exactly who to approach within the relevant Cambodian ministries.
  • Use a knowledgeable local liaison as an intermediary in the process as ideally they can speak Khmer and will have a prior relationship with the particular Cambodian Government department.
  • Remember payment of “facilitation fees” to shorten the timeframe of registration, while for many years regarded as common practice, is now a contravention of Cambodian law.
  • New enterprise owners are best recommended to seek expert advisory services.
+ How do I get the right licence to operate my business in Cambodia?
  • It is your responsibility, as business owner, to obtain the correct licences from the correct ministries for your type of business.
  • There are 26 ministries in the Royal Government of Cambodia, which collectively regulate a broad range of industry sectors and other activities.
  • Prices vary considerably – but as an example you might pay from $150 to $300 for a restaurant licence.
  • Licences are generally renewed annually.
  • Failures to obtain correct licences, or renew current licences, can result in fines or the business being closed.
  • If your wish to expand your company’s activities into new areas, you must obtain the correct licences for any expansion from the correct ministries.
  • Identical processes are necessary for any business expansion or modification.
  • If in doubt, seek expert advisory services.
Cambodian Tax Registration & Obligations
Find out what taxes your Cambodian business will need to pay and how to pay them.
+ How do I register as a taxpayer?
  • The Law on Financial Management 2016, promulgated on December 17, 2015, abolished Cambodia’s former two-tier tax system, dropping the more informal Estimated Regime. As such, the country is left with a unified, one-regime system that will widen the taxpayer base, with all enterprises obliged to be registered under it.
  • Businesses have 15 days after registering with the MoC to also register with the Department of Taxation to receive a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and to register to pay Value Added Tax (VAT).
  • When registering for the TIN, the company must also pay an annual business registration tax, known as a Patent Tax, for its first year of operation, though the figure is reduced if the business is registered after July 1.
  • If a business is planning to engage in multiple activities, individual taxes are due on each separate business activity, as well as for each of the company’s locations.
+ When and how do I pay tax?
  • Following registration at the Ministry of Economics and Finance (MEF), the company is liable to pay various taxes each month, usually payable by the 15th of the following month, with the exception of VAT, which is due on the 20th.
  • Payments must be accompanied by a signed declaration, together with copies of all invoices either issued or received by the company during the tax period.
  • In addition to monthly tax filing, the company is required to file an annual return known as a “Tax on Profit” return. This is due no later than March 31.
  • Following registration at the Ministry of Economics and Finance (MEF), a company is liable to pay various taxes each month, usually by the 20th. They include the tax on salary; the prepayment of profit tax (equal to 1% of turnover); and VAT (equal to the total VAT charged to your customers minus VAT payable to your suppliers).
  • Following a recent revision of the 2017 Financial Law, all companies maintaining proper accounting records are exempt from paying the 1% Minimum Tax (MT exemption). Previously, only Qualified Investment Projects (QIP) were eligible for the exemption.
  • Payments are first made to the bank and will be receipted. Once payment is made to the bank, the taxpayer lodges two copies of the return and the bank receipt with their local tax branch and, if accepted, a yellow receipt of tax lodgement and payment is provided with one copy of the return back to the taxpayer.
  • The carried forward losses record in the books of account for the taxpayer is sometimes an unknown issue to the business owner. By law, it becomes null whenever there is a change of business activities or ownership. But as long as the ultimate ownership does not change, the taxpayer can apply for carried forward losses by sending a request letter to get confirmation from the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
+ What if my business operates outside of Phnom Penh?
  • Tax registration can be completed at a provincial tax branch instead.
+ What if my business is planning to engage in multiple business activities?
  • Individual taxes are due on each separate business activity, as well as for each of the company’s locations.
  • The tax is due thereafter on a yearly basis every January.
+ What are my tax obligations?
  • The Law on Financial Management 2016 abolished Cambodia’s former two-tier tax system, dropping the more informal Estimated Regime. As such, the country is left with a unified, one-regime system that should widen the taxpayer base.
  • Additionally, the remaining tax regime (known as the Real Regime) has been restructured, with taxpayers now divided into three categories according to income: small, medium and large taxpayers.
  • There is still a long way to go to complete this transition, with only around 40,000 SMEs—out of an estimated 600,000 operating in the country—having registered with the DGT.
+ What taxes do I need to pay?
  • Value added tax (VAT): Any VAT invoiced by your company during the taxable period (typically 10% of net invoice value) is payable to the tax department, net of any VAT paid by the company to its suppliers during the same period.
  • Prepayment of Profit Tax: An amount equal to 1% of turnover is payable. Any such tax paid is deducted from your company’s profit tax bill at the end of the year.
  • Withholding Tax: As a taxpayer, you are required to withhold tax from payments made for services purchased from non real-regime entities, and in certain other circumstances. The amount to be withheld varies according to your particular situation, and can be as much as 15% for consulting or management service.
  • Tax on Salary: Your company must pay taxes on any salaries paid to resident employees. Tax rates vary from 0-20% – with the top band coming into effect at a monthly salary of KHR 12.5m (approximately US$3,125). Non-resident employees are taxed at 20% of any salary sourced in Cambodia, and fringe benefits are also taxable at 20%.
  • Tax on Profit: This is the debt of a resident taxpayer on income from Cambodian sources as well as from foreign sources. Audits may occur anytime within a three-year period of the submission of monthly or annual tax returns.
+ Tax top tips
  • Remember for a non-resident taxpayer, this tax is assessed on income from Cambodian sources only.
  • The profit tax is payable annually and is imposed at a rate of 20% in most circumstances, though the tax rate varies for certain industries such as oil and mineral exploration and insurance.
  • Full details of tax liabilities can be found on the website of the Cambodian General Department of Taxation by visiting tax.gov.kh.
  • Any concerns you may have over taxation can be offset through the use of a trained accountant and strict adherence to the law.
  • Franchises
  • Do you have a Franchise you would like to introduce to Cambodia? Now is a great time.
+ Are franchises popular in Cambodia?
  • As an emerging market that is home to a growing population with increasing expendable income, Cambodia is quickly becoming an attractive destination for franchise businesses.
  • International brands enter Cambodia and encounter a local market demonstrating an automatic assumption of quality and affinity toward their products.
  • The benefits for new franchisers are that franchises typically come with a well-documented guide to operations, together with training from the franchising company, enabling the business to perform at international standards of quality and service almost immediately after opening.
  • The franchising company may also provide support in areas such as management of accounts, sales, advertising and so forth.
+ What franchises are already here?
  • The first franchise to operate in central Phnom Penh was Thailand-based The Pizza Company, which was started in 2005 by EFG (Express Foods Group), followed by Swensen’s, BBQ Chicken, Dairy Queen and Costa Coffee.
  • Other international names include Starbucks, KFC, Gloria Jean’s Coffee, Spinelli, Burger King, Mazda, BMW, Rolls Royce, Dominoes Pizza and the country’s first Hard Rock Cafe, which opened in Siem Reap.
+ How can I bring my franchise to Cambodia?
  • You’re best to come prepared with a well-documented guide to operations, together with training from the franchising company; that way, the business can perform at international standards of quality and service in Cambodia.
  • As franchiser, you may also provide support in areas such as management of accounts, sales, advertising and so forth.
  • It is also possible to sub-franchise or create a joint venture: such as ANZ Royal Bank, a joint venture between ANZ Bank and local conglomerate the Royal Group of Companies; and Cambodia Angkor Air, a joint-venture between the Royal Government of Cambodia and Vietnam Airlines.
  • Closing a Business in Cambodia
  • If you decide to close a business in Cambodia, there are a few things you had better keep in mind.
+ Why must I end an existing Business in Cambodia?
  • If you don’t declare bankruptcy or the business is never formally dissolved, you will leave behind a legal entity, a “ghost company” that can be sued even though there might not be any remaining assets.
+ How do I officially close a business in Cambodia?
  • There are two steps you must complete. First, send a letter informing the Tax Department that the business is planning to close. Within 1 – 2 months, an auditor is sent to the company and this is when any pending tax issues will be addressed. Once the Tax Department has approved the first step by issuing a certificate, the company must formally close the business down at the Ministry of Commerce, and then they will receive a Certificate of Closure.
  • As with registering a business, the process for dissolving a company can now also be done online. For more information, click here.
+ What else do I need to remember when closing a business in Cambodia?
  • A company can face court supervision of the liquidation if it does not properly satisfy all its obligations.
  • Those include paying employee salaries, outstanding debts and due taxes. The legal entity continues to exist until the date shown on a certificate of dissolution, issued by the MoC.

In addition, an official audit by the Department of Taxation is often necessary.
Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in Cambodia
What exactly are Special Economic Zones and how can they make business easy in Cambodia?

+ What are Special Economic Zones (SEZs)?
  • In short: self-contained, fully serviced areas possessing special economic regulations.
  • The Cambodian government created and formally introduced SEZs in 2005.
+ Why are Special Economic Zones (SEZ) useful in Cambodia?
  • SEZ regulations are generally market-oriented and conducive to foreign direct investment.
  • Including tax incentives and lower tariffs.
  • SEZs offer facilities such as roads, power generation and distribution, water supply, sanitation and sewage systems, telecom networks and so forth.
  • Each zone contains a production and service area and may also include a residential area to for workers.
  • SEZs offer a one-stop service for imports and exports, with government officials stationed on-site to provide administrative services.
  • Applications to establish factories are dealt with on-site, as are clearances, permits and authorisations.

More details can be found at cambodiainvestment.gov.kh

+ What is the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC)?
  • In 1994, the Government passed the Law on Foreign Investment in the Kingdom of Cambodia with the aim of streamlining the foreign investment regime and providing generous concessions and incentives for such investment.
  • The law also established the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), and made it the highest decision-making level of the government for private and public sector investment.
  • The CDC has two operational arms: the Cambodian Investment Board (CIB) and the Cambodian Special Economic Zone Board (CSEZB), which together act as “one-stop service mechanisms“ to evaluate and approve applications for Qualifying Investment Projects.
  • The CIB deals with investment projects outside of special economic zones (SEZs) and the CSEZB takes charge of projects within the SEZs themselves.
  • Qualifying Investment Projects
  • Here’s how to get the official go-ahead for your investment plans and projects.
+ Who can qualify my investment project in Cambodia?
  • The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) and the Council of the Development of Cambodia (CDC) are collectively responsible for overseeing foreign direct investment (FDI) and business development in the country.
+ Is my project eligible for qualification?
  • FDI projects eligible for business incentives are known as Qualified Investment Projects (QIPs) and must be registered with the
  • All FDI require an initial investment of at least US$1 million.
  • Though very large projects with investment capital over $50 million or those involving the exploration and exploitation of mineral and natural resources will also require approval from the Council of Ministers.
  • Certain other kinds of projects will also need to gain approval.
+ What are Qualified Investment Projects (QIPs)?
  • QIPs fall into four main categories: contracts, transfers, ownership, and state management.
  • Within these four categories, various separate “schemes” are possible including: Build, Operate & Transfer (BOT), Build, Lease & Transfer (BLT), Build, Own, Operate & Transfer (BOOT), and Build, Own & Operate (BOO).
+ How can my investment project qualify as a QIP?
  • To qualify as a QIP, your project must first obtain a Conditional Registration Certificate (CRC), after which a Final Registration Certificate (FRC) will be issued.
  • The CRC should be issued within three days of receipt of the proposal (if the initial decision of the CDC is favourable).
  • The CDC then has a further 28 days to obtain the required approvals, authorisations, licenses, permits and registrations on behalf of the investor, and issue the FRC.
  • As indicated earlier, only projects over a certain size can apply for QIP incentives, though very large projects with investment capital over $50 million, or those involving the exploration and exploitation of mineral and natural resources, will also require approval from the Council of Ministers.
  • Certain other kinds of projects will also need to gain approval.
+ What perks will I receive as a QIP?
  • In terms of incentives, QIPs can select between a profit-tax exemption (eliminating any tax on profit for a specific number of years) or a depreciation allowance of 40 percent on the value of the properties used in the production or processing.
  • With certain exceptions, imported production equipment and construction materials are tax-exempt, as are goods manufactured for export.
+ What does the Cambodian Credit Bureau do?
  • The Cambodian credit bureau was launched in 2012 to promote transparency and help prevent credit risks associated with excessive lending to one borrower by different institutions.
  • The Cambodian credit bureau facilitates the development of new services that banks can offer their customers, and loans should steadily become more widely available without the requirement for borrowers to offer land or other items as security.
  • Although still in its infancy, the Cambodian credit bureau has already made a huge impact on the economy, with tens of thousands of reports being made daily.
  • The Cambodian credit bureau is a partnership between the National Bank Cambodia (NBC), all banks and Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), and Veda Advantage, a leading global supplier of credit system technology.
  • Maintaining a central database of credit data enables banks and MFIs to share information relating to their customer repayment histories.
  • It also allows the Cambodian credit bureau to assist lenders in making accurate loan decisions.
+ Can I use cheques in Cambodia and how long should I expect them to clear?
  • The cheque clearance system in Cambodia continues to develop.
  • Currently, it takes between two to four working days to clear a cheque in Phnom Penh and longer in the provinces.
  • Cheques made out in foreign currency can be deposited at banks, provided those banks offer accounts in that particular currency, for example; US dollars, Vietnamese dong or Thai Baht.
  • Bounced cheques are not particularly prevalent in Cambodia, due to banks being well educated about taking due care when receiving cheques from third parties.
  • Also, a bounced check can mean jail time for the writer.
+ Are construction developers available in Cambodia?
  • The business of building in Cambodia involves many groups of people and one can set up at any point in the chain. Many will even tell you there is not one path to realising a project, particularly with some companies acting as developers.
  • Developers can also take on the role of instigator to contractor, as they may be the ones who have a project in mind or will work for a client to bring the client’s project to life.
  • Some developers claim to “do everything but the construction,” and they will help with sourcing materials, hiring contractors and architects, purchasing or leasing a site and securing funding, not to mention conducting a feasibility study and market research.
+ How easy is access to pharmaceuticals in Cambodia?
  • Pharmaceuticals are extremely easily accessible in Cambodia, being bought over the counter in most cases.
  • However, the quality of pharmacies and pharmaceutical products and the consistency in supply varies greatly.
  • The sale of counterfeit pharmaceuticals continues to be a problem in Cambodia.
  • Although the situation is improving, it remains important to choose pharmacies carefully as some fake medications are ineffective and harmful. The standard of factories producing medicine also needs to be taken into account.
  • Standards of practise in the medicine factories are still not up to par with the West. This means some of these cheaper drugs may not be healthy to take because they do not meet certain criteria of the standards of practice. For instance, some have been contaminated with other medicines during production, or damaged by exposure to the sun or moisture.
  • Many pharmacies don’t use qualified staff, and store medication in inappropriate temperatures. The further away from big cities you get, the worse these standards get.
+ What are the main new luxury residential properties under development in Phnom Penh?
  • Habitat Condominium—located in Tonle Bassac, Chamkarmon—won Best Condo Development in Cambodia at the 2017 edition of the Cambodia Property Awards. It is composed of 14 floors and offers 13 stylish and spacious units.
  • Sky Tree Condominium, located in the up-and-coming Russey Keo district of Phnom Penh, is an affordable, freehold mixed-use development offering luxury condominiums and service apartments.
  • At 45-storeys, The Bridge is set to be the nation’s tallest high-rise apartment complex. Located besides the Australian Embassy in Tonle Bassac, the building stands in a tranquil location a stone’s throw away from the Tonle Sap.
Banking & Finance
Banking & Finance

Here is an overview of the banking sector in Cambodia, the different types of banking institutions operating here and the various services available to corporate and domestic customers.

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+ How has banking evolved in Cambodia?
  • In 1998, the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) was established and was put under the Governorship of H.E. Chea Chanto.
  • Since then, Cambodia has seen many developments including the classification of banks, the requirement to issue annual reports, the establishment of a credit bureau, the creation of a stock market, the requirement of external auditors and increased minimum capital requirements.
  • Cambodia’s banking system continues to align with international institutions.
  • The Ministry of Economics and Finance as well as the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) regulate banks and banking services.
  • The Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC) represents the banking sector to the Royal Government of Cambodia and the ASEAN Bankers Association. The ABC includes international, local and government owned banks.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank also operate in Cambodia. Cambodian banking is legislated by the Law on Banking and Financial Institutions (LBFI).
  • In 2014, with renewed political and economical stability, businesses across the country rebounded strongly.
  • Cambodian MFIs performed particularly well last year, delivering an average return on equity of 22 percent, making Cambodia’s MFI sector one of the best performing globally.
  • However, only 10-15% of the population is currently banked.
+ Have there been any major changes in banking in Cambodia over the last two years?
  • The degree of competition within the banking industry has grown dramatically.
  • In Cambodia there are now around 36 commercial banks, seven specialist banks and 44 registered MFIs.
  • For customers, this means the cost of credit is cheaper and there are more channels to do banking business through.
  • There are more ATMs and branches across Cambodia and a wider range of available products, such as insurance being sold through banks.
  • The Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC) released a Code of Banking Practice in February 2015.
  • The document outlines a set of best practice industry standards encouraging financial institutions to be more open with their customers.
  • The Code is said to reflect the protection mechanism for financial service users and provides rights for financial service users to complain banks or financial institutions on their services that they don’t like.
  • The move aims to foster confidence in the banking system and encourage a corporate culture of fair dealing.
  • The Code covers all services offered by a bank to its customers, from simple account operations to calculating interest rates on loans or credit cards. Several Cambodian financial institutions voluntarily signed on to uphold the terms of the Code immediately.
  • It is hoped that all firms operating within the Cambodian finance industry will voluntarily adhere to the terms of the Code in future.
+ How do I set up a bank account in Cambodia?
  • Opening a bank account in Cambodia is easy, provided you bring the correct documents.
  • These vary but generally include a copy of the applicant’s ID card or passport, proof of address and proof of income.
  • Corporate accounts require more documents, ranging from Certificate of Corporation and Memorandum and Article of Association to Certificate of Good Standing and Board Resolution.
  • Business customers can enjoy an additional range of services, such as payroll, letters of credit and foreign exchange.
+ How stable is Cambodia’s banking sector?
  • An annual NBC report revealed the organisation fulfilled its mission as the country’s central bank in maintaining price stability with the 2013 inflation rate standing at about 4%.
  • Cambodia’s foreign reserves under the NBC management increased from $378 million 15 years ago, to more than $4,100 million at the start of 2014.
  • NBC says this is enough to cover more than four months of the country’s import, reaching the height of wealth Cambodia as a nation has ever achieved.
  • The report also reveals lending at Cambodian commercial banks rose by 26% to $7.4 billion in 2013 from $5.88 billion in 2012.
+ What are the preferred forms of payment in Cambodia?
  • Cambodia still operates on a predominantly cash-based system, although credit and debit cards are becoming increasingly common.
  • Cards are now accepted at many large hotels, restaurants and other retail outlets.
+ What options are available if I want to seek additional finance?
  • There is a lack of equity or bond markets in Cambodia, which means alternative investment must often be sought through alternative avenues.
  • Finding venture capital and private equity firms for finance in Cambodia, is not as easy as the industry remains still fairly undeveloped.
  • Banks will only usually lend to customers with collateral, such as land, pushing most Cambodian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) out of the picture.
  • The micro-finance sector in Cambodia provides funding to smaller companies.
+ What is the Credit Bureau of Cambodia (CBC) and how can it help me?
  • A credit bureau was launched in 2012 to promote transparency and help prevent credit risks associated with excessive lending to one borrower by different institutions.
  • The CBC provides commercial credit insight that helps Cambodian businesses reduce their costs, increase their revenues and reduce the risks associated with their credit portfolio.
  • CBC notification services allow users to track, analyse and take action quickly to reduce write-offs and identify additional revenue opportunities.
  • The monitoring service also helps safeguard Cambodian consumers and businesses from fraud using their investigation and identity authentication tools.
  • Although still in its infancy, the bureau has already made a huge impact on the economy, with tens of thousands of reports being made daily.
  • The Bureau is helping Cambodians to learn the benefits of good credit history, and the opposite—the damage of bad credit history.
+ Are alternative forms of finance available in Cambodia, outside of the banking sector?
  • There are limited options available for those seeking alternative forms of finance in Cambodia.
  • The finance industry in Cambodia is still relatively immature and start-up investment companies, venture funds or early “angel” investors are rare.
  • There has been a recent growth in private equity firms setting up in Cambodia specifically targeting both foreign and local SMEs but there remains a gap in the market.
+ Does Cambodia have a stock exchange?
  • The Cambodian Securities Exchange (CSX) opened in July 2011 as part of the implementation of the Financial Sector Development Strategy 2006-2015.
  • The exchange is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission but is owned by the Ministry of Economics and Finance which has a 55 percent share and the Korean Stock Exchange which has the remaining 45 percent share.
  • In order to trade, an investor must register with the SECC to receive an Investor’s ID then they may open a securities trading account or trade via a securities firm.
  • Foreign investors who have held residency in Cambodia for at least 182 days are eligible to receive tax breaks on any trades.
  • For any conflicts that may arise between investors and securities firms the SECC will arbitrate.
  • Any company wishing to list must satisfy SECC criteria. This includes three years of audited accounts, certain levels of financial security, to show profitability in previous years, a certain value of assets and certain future prospects. It is not a fast process—it takes months, and substantial expense.
  • Companies that list on the CSX before January 8, 2018, and the two companies already listed on the CSX, will receive hefty three-year tax breaks of 50 percent off their gross operations tax, according to a recent SECC announcement.
  • Exchange market confidence comes only with activity and diversity, and these factors are not independent—hence the new incentives from the SECC.
  • The bottom line is, people must see it as a worthwhile alternative to putting money in the bank: without the players, we have no game.
  • Banking Services in Cambodia
  • Commercial banks offer a range of services for individual and corporate customers in Cambodia.
  • Check out how they can help you!
+ What personal banking services are available to me in Cambodia?
  • Individual banking services include chequing and savings accounts, and foreign exchange services.
  • Some banks also offer credit cards, overdraft facilities and personal loans.
  • Credit card allowances usually have to be offset by cash funds held in a separate account, and loans will require collateral typically in the form of a land title.
+ How can banks help me pay my employees in Cambodia?
  • Several banks now offer a payroll management service, saving customers time by allowing them to process payments directly to employees, creditors or other parties with a bank account to which funds can be sent.
+ Can I use online banking services in Cambodia?
  • During the last few years, the majority of the country’s main players in the banking world have launched online services to customers, offering various transactions, such as overseas and domestic money transfers and payroll payments.
  • Retail businesses can also take advantage of EPOS services such as ANZ Royal’s “Blue Spot” whereby customers can pay for goods and services bills using credit and debit cards.
+ Are mobile banking services available in Cambodia?
  • Mobile banking looks set to become a way of life.
  • This is a sector where Cambodia is ideally positioned to leapfrog the traditional prerequisite of an online banking stage, which is generally demonstrated in other emerging banking markets.
  • The solutions to enable mobile banking are ever more affordable and powerful. There are close to five million 3/4G mobile subscribers and 2.2 million active social media users, so in a few years mobile banking will be a common feature and no longer a differentiator.
  • Consumers bypassing this preliminary stage are quicker to expect mobile banking services from banks throughout the industry. This is especially so with a young and easily educated population.
+ What sort of bank charges can I expect in Cambodia?
  • The charges incurred when setting up and operating a business bank account in Cambodia vary depending on the bank, the type of account being opened and features offered.
  • Interest charges vary, with standard transactions being capped at 18%.
  • Each bank has a fee schedule outlining all charges, which is available to customers.
  • As well as set-up fees, there can also be costs to run the account depending on the type being opened and other various factors, such as whether it has an overdraft facility.
  • Some accounts also carry a fee for dropping below the minimum balance or for credit cards.
  • Overdraft facilities are available in Cambodia.
+ Can I borrow money from banks in Cambodia?
  • Commercial banks offer various solutions to their customers’ borrowing requirements, in the forms of overdrafts and business loans.
  • In the absence of a commercial credit rating system, access to credit is usually secured by land or fixed cash deposits.
  • Here a land title is used as security against a loan, the bank will generally lend up to 50 to 60 percent of the land’s assessed value (quick sale value).
  • If you want a $10,000 overdraft, you may need to set up a fixed deposit of the same amount, especially if you have no land to use as security.
  • Consequently, many small businesses face borrowing money from unlicensed lenders which is an expensive strategy.
  • Types of Banks in Cambodia
  • There are three types of banks in Cambodia – Specialized, Commercial and Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs). Here’s a quick overview of how these banks differ and how they might help you.
+ How is the banking system structured in Cambodia?
  • All banks, whether Specialized, Commercial or Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), operate under the umbrella of the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC), which registers, licenses and regulates them.
  • The Ministry of Economy and Finance as well as the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) regulate banks and banking services. The Association of Banks in Cambodia (ABC) represents the banking sector to the Royal Government of Cambodia and the ASEAN Bankers Association. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank also operate in Cambodia. Banking is legislated primarily by the Law on Banking and Financial Institutions (LBFI).
+ Who are the biggest banks currently operating in Cambodia?
  • The top four banks, which together have a combined market share of around 65% (based on loans outstanding), are ACLEDA, ANZ Royal, Cambodia Public Bank (CAMPU) and Canadia Bank, with the rest of the market shared between the other banks, of which there were 43 at the time of writing.
+ Tell me more about specialised banks in Cambodia?
  • A Specialised bank, according to the Law of Banking and Financial Institutions (LBFI), carries out one of the following three activities:
  • 1) The collection of deposits from the public that are considered “non-earmarked”;
  • 2) Credit operations such as leasing, commitments and;
  • 3) Guarantees under signature, all of which are deemed valuable considerations.
+ Tell me more about commercial banks in Cambodia?
  • Commercial banks in Cambodia offer a broader range of services, catering to the requirements of individual and corporate customers.
  • Local incorporated banks are required by the NBC and LBFI to have a minimum of $37.5m of capital or a shareholder with a rating of “investment grade” from an independent rating agency.
  • Commercial banks offer a wide range of services for individual and corporate customers.
  • To set up a bank account in Cambodia, make sure you bring the correct documents.
  • These vary but generally include a minimum of a copy of the applicant’s ID card or passport, proof of address and proof of income.
  • Corporate accounts require more documents, and will depend on the bank’s specific requirements.
  • Individual services include chequing and savings accounts and foreign exchange services.
  • Some also offer credit cards, overdraft facilities and personal loans.
  • Several banks now offer a payroll management service, saving customers time by allowing them to process payments directly to employees.
  • Online banking services are also improving in leaps and bounds.
  • Increasingly, multinational banks are encouraging wealthy Khmers to invest in more liquid financial assets, as opposed to investing solely in land.
  • While these markets continue to grow, continuing education is needed from banks and financial consultants to alter conservatism towards the international finance market.
  • As ASEAN takes form this year, more and more banks are attempting to offer region-wide services, allowing banking tools and funds to be accessible to business people across a number of ASEAN countries, if not all.
  • This drive is likewise ensuring banking codes of practice and ethics are being standardised across the region, benefiting Cambodian banking practice significantly.
+ Tell me more about micro finance institutions (MFIs) in Cambodia?
  • There are over 40 MFIs in Cambodia.
  • MFIs service poor and low-income families, individuals and small institutions by providing micro-credit in the form of loans and other financial support.
  • Cambodian MFIs performed particularly well last year, delivering an average return on equity of 22 percent, making Cambodia’s MFI sector one of the best performing globally.
  • The sector has grown rapidly in recent years, with a 44% increase in loans in 2013. It grew from $1.3bn in 2013 to over $2bn in 2014, which is much faster than that of FDI, which grew from $1.3bn to 1.7bn in 2014.
  • The largest 8 MFIs use reliable credit assessment and risk mitigation tools (use of credit bureau, personal cash flow assessment, repayment ratios on disposable income and use of funds). However, smaller and unlicensed MFIs are not using them.
  • Money Matters
  • It’s all about the money! Here’s the head-ups on all you need to know about moving, managing and spending money in Cambodia.
+ What currencies can I use in Cambodia?
  • Cambodia has its own currency (the riel) that comes in various denominations of paper bills ranging from 50 to 100000.
  • When the United Nations entered Cambodia in 1993 the economy became dollarized with the injection of a large amount of the US currency.
  • Restaurants, shops and hotels will generally accept larger bills.
  • Damaged or torn dollar bills are rarely accepted but can be exchanged at the local money changers for a small fee.
  • Cambodia still operates on a predominantly cash-based system.
  • However, credit and debit cards are now increasingly accepted at many hotels, restaurants and other retail outlets.
  • Card-based payments are still relatively uncommon but this is set to change quickly as the technological framework to support electronic payments is falling into place.
  • Cheques are used also, but sparingly.
  • Large transactions are generally conducted in dollars, with riel the equivalent of cents as there are no coins in use.
  • In rural areas, however, riel is still the dominant currency.
  • Many small shop owners and vendors will not take bills larger than $20 for small purchases.
  • Damaged or torn dollar bills are rarely accepted, and are sometimes impossible to pass on, but they should be able to be exchanged at the local money changers for a small fee.
+ Are credit and debit cards common in Cambodia?
  • An increasing number of Cambodians are switching from cash to cards as Visa and other international credit card companies continue to spread across the country.
  • The criteria varies from bank to bank, with some banks offering credit cards to clients whose income is as little as $200 per month.
  • Some banks require customers to load credit cards with money to spend, while some are yet to issue credit cards to the market mainly due to the low usage of credit cards in the country.
  • A few years ago, almost all cards were savings secured, now real credit cards are becoming more and more common.
+ Can I use ATMs in Cambodia?
  • Most commercial banks have ATMs, ACLEDA and ANZ Royal having the two largest networks with more than 685 ATMs collectively throughout the country as of the end of 2013.
  • Many ATMs also offer international access for withdrawals at a fee, which varies considerably so it’s wise to shop around.
  • ATMs offer additional services including mobile phone top ups and payment utility bills.
  • ACLEDA has the most branches of any bank in the country and concurrently has the largest number of ATMs, having established their network into the remote areas of the country.
  • Most commercial banks have ATMs in major centres and many offer increasingly wide rural coverage. Many ATMs also offer international access for withdrawals at a fee, which varies considerably so it’s wise to shop around. Some ATMs offer additional services including mobile phone top-ups and payment of utility bills. Note that different banks offer different levels of ATM service—if fast cash is important to you, and you work countrywide, you best choose a bank with wide ATM coverage.
+ Is it easy to move money in and out of Cambodia?
  • The Foreign Exchange Law 2007 states money can be freely and reliably transferred in and out of the country through an authorized intermediary via a licensed bank.
  • Most banks can transfer money internationally, though funds over a certain amount may take longer to process and require central bank approval.
  • Transfers from overseas accounts transit through a correspondent bank in the USA so can take a couple of days, and the correspondent bank may charge a processing fee, as may the originating bank for incoming transfers, or the destination bank in the case of outgoing payments.
  • Western Union and MoneyGram services are available but are comparatively expensive.
  • For relatively small amounts, ATM withdrawals from an international account can be a cost-effective method of transferring money into Cambodia, especially if you choose an ATM service where the local bank makes no charge.
+ Are mobile payment and banking services available in Cambodia?
  • With the rise in use of smart phones across Cambodia comes with it a need for banking institutions to adapt to consumer needs.
  • This has led to a rapid rise in the use of mobile banking across the country.
  • Mobile payment services are now also operating in Cambodia, with WING being the leading electronic money transfer system – transfers are straightforward to make and cost just 6000 riel ($1.50) regardless of the amount transferred.
  • PayPal and Google checkout are not currently licensed to operate from Cambodia.
+ Is money laundering a problem in Cambodia?
  • In response to mounting concerns from the international business community that Cambodia is vulnerable to money laundering, the Government has tightened up its laws.
  • In March 2014, the Council of Ministers approved a sub-decree freezing assets of terrorist organisations and supporting institutions in compliance with UN resolutions.
  • In 2004, Cambodia joined the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, meaning the country must meet international standards to fight financial crime.
  • In 2007, a law on money laundering and terrorist financing was passed.
  • The next year, a Financial Intelligence Unit was established in the National Bank of Cambodia.
+ What if I am seeking additional finance in Cambodia?
  • There is a lack of equity or bond markets in the country meaning alternative investment must be sought through alternative avenues.
  • Banks will only usually look to proven character, experience of repaying loans, and then cash flow, or profits from the business.
  • Most borrowers in Cambodia do not provide quality financial statements, thus they force the banks to lend with collateral, such as land, pushing most Cambodian SMEs out of the picture.
  • The microfinance sector provides funding to small companies, and is proving a successful utility for small businesses. The sector saw a 44 percent increase in loans in 2013.
  • Investors, business angels or venture capitalists are almost non-existent in Cambodia.
  • There are a few investment funds looking for mature projects, but for venture capital, there are only a few initiatives in the whole country.
  • There has been recent growth in private equity firms setting up in Cambodia, specifically targeting both foreign and local SMEs, but there still remains a gap in the middle of the market.
Construction & Maintenance
Construction & Maintenance

Here’s a summary of the country’s construction market and the types of companies operating; including contractors, suppliers, maintenance firms and so forth.

As a continually evolving industry, construction is playing an increasingly strong role in Cambodia’s economy. We take a look at the developments that look set to change the capital’s landscape. Get some top tips from our panel of industry insiders on how to successfully carry out construction projects, make the most out of your team and hire the correct workers.

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+ What’s behind Phnom Penh’s recent construction boom?
  • A construction boom has taken hold of the Cambodian capital, with a range of commercial and residential projects springing up across Phnom Penh at a growing rate.
  • According to the latest figures from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC), the number of construction projects approved in Cambodia during the first half of 2017 increased 28 percent compared with the same period last year, amounting to a total value of around $4.9 billion.
  • As per MLMUPC’s figures, the government approved 1,523 projects nationwide between January and the end of June 2017, compared with 1,183 projects for the first half of last year.
  • These projects are getting bigger in scale. Affordable housing projects, condominiums, hotels, lifestyle malls and office buildings are the trend.
  • According to CBRE’s latest available report, the capital is set to welcome a significant wave of new condominium supply over the course of 2017, with nearly 7,000 units due to be delivered by the end of the year. CBRE expects to see the completion of more than 1,500 condo units before the end of the year’s second quarter.
  • Cambodia’s investment in the real estate and construction sector in 2016 capped off at $8.53 billion, a 155.7 percent increase compared to the same period in 2015, according to the Phnom Penh Post.
  • Cambodia’s FDI totalled US$2.15 billion in 2016, a 25% increase from the year prior. The top three recipient sectors for foreign investment are banking, manufacturing and real estate.
  • Nationwide, investment into approved construction projects reached $8.5 billion across 2,636 projects by the end of 2016, an increase of 143% on 2015, which saw $3.5 billion invested in 2,305 projects.
  • China remains the country’s largest source of FDI. During October last year, a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping resulted in the agreement of almost US$2 billion of infrastructure investment and aid to the country, including a $1.9 billion highway project linking Phnom Penh and the port city of Sihanoukville.
  • Developments underway include ING City, Koh Pich and Exchange Square. Some projects recently concluded are The Bridge and Borey 999.
  • Cambodia’s first shopping mall opened its doors in the capital in June 2014 in the form of Aeon Mall. Its success helped pave the way for similar projects. A second giant Aeon mall will open its doors in Phnom Penh in 2018 in Tuol Kork. Other ambitious retail developments are Parkson Mall, Olympia Plaza and The Bridge, all of which are expected to be finished soon.
  • The $120 million Sokha Hotel and Residence on Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changva peninsula officially opened in March 2015.
  • A draft for a new construction law is currently being considered The key building law currently in place is the Law of Management and Planning of Urban Construction (1994).
  • Obtaining construction approvals for large-scale projects can be time consuming with the average request for approval taking one year to process. Total building permit fees are in the region of $6,000-7,000.
  • Generally speaking, the cost of construction in Cambodia is approximately 10 percent higher than neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, due to a dependence on imported materials. In a country with particularly high costs for electricity, people are increasingly incorporating renewable energy solutions into building projects, particularly solar and wind.
  • CAMBUILD continues to be the biggest forum for the construction industry. The 2017 edition of the expo, held in September, was based around the theme of quality—in construction and in materials—and eco-friendly designs.
+ How has the quality of the construction industry and available materials changed in recent years?
  • As more foreigners move to the country and development continues to pick up pace, the standards and quality of construction have also risen.
  • A draft for a new construction law is currently being considered The key building law currently in place is the Law of Management and Planning of Urban Construction (1994).
  • Until now, international developers have been bringing their own standards of construction practice to projects inside Cambodia.
  • The Government is currently consulting with industry and private sector.
  • 193 construction projects were found to be building without permits in 2014.
  • Obtaining materials for their projects is still a challenge for construction companies and architecture and interior design firms. Currently, the country lacks a one-stop shop for construction materials, and companies are forced to visit different parts of the city to gather materials. Many high-end materials need to be imported—which bumps up prices significantly—with Cambodia lacking manufacturers that specialise in more exclusive products.
+ What are health and safety standards like in Cambodia?
  • Health and safety standards are a continuing issue in Cambodia, with many construction sites failing to adhere to even the most basic of standards.
  • Pending regulation and compliance updates, health and safety remains the responsibility of the construction company.
  • This means comprehensive training and education must be done, along with on-site monitoring to ensure these standards are followed.
  • International accreditation bodies accredit some firms, which means if you look for a Cambodian constructor that has international accreditation, it has demonstrated that it can ensure consistent and proper management of health and safety risks in the workplace and are aligned to internationally recognised best practice.
  • For instance, the “Occupational Health & Safety Advisory Services (OHSAS)” certification lasts a period of three years, and is managed by BM TRADA, a UK-based international independent certification provider.
+ Is there a readily available, skilled workforce in Cambodia?
  • In recent years, the Cambodian construction industry has been stretched by the strong need for manual labour.
  • This is due to a number of factors, such as the spike in construction projects nationally, a rise in Cambodian workers migrating to neighbouring countries seeking higher pay, and an increase in Cambodians choosing to pursue more highly-regarded careers.
  • Thailand, for example, has always been an alluring prospect for skilled Cambodian construction workers, and ASEAN is only likely to increase this drive.
  • However, it appears that there is a common shortage now: Myanmar has a labour shortage, Laos has a labour shortage, and Thailand has a big labour shortage.
  • Ultimately though, the cost of construction will have to rise significantly, because of the increasing costs of labour.
  • Incentive schemes and out-pricing the competition in terms of wages helps, but still staff might move for a small difference in finances, and understandably so: In many more-developed countries, the biggest cost of construction is generally labour. Here in Cambodia it’s a much smaller percentage.
  • This has also led to a lack of specialised skilled labourers.
  • Certified tradesmen such as electricians, plumbers and welders are quite hard to come by in Cambodia and standards are often lower than in more developed countries.
  • Such concerns, of course, should be balanced against the low salaries for which labourers work.
  • There is a distinct lack of vocational training options provided by the Government, so it remains the responsibility of the private sector to train, and retrain.
  • Upskilling is made easy with a variety of vocational training for new employees.
  • Offering training up to company standards is something many larger companies carry out already, and this trend is growing fast.
  • However, smaller companies may not budget for this.
  • Certain NGOs run vocational training for things like welding and mechanics.
  • PSE, Child Fund, Friends International and Indochina Starfish Foundation are a few that offer vocational training courses.
  • The Lighthouse Club also offers various scholarships.
  • Some companies bring in interns to test their aptitude before hiring.
+ What does the future hold in terms on the construction industry in Cambodia?
  • Experts agree construction is going to continue to play a major role in Cambodia’s economy well into the future.
  • International developers will keep pouring into the country, while local construction and architecture companies will also keep on multiplying.
  • We can expect the number of showrooms to grow exponentially.
  • As the number of high end projects increases, experts agree the availability of quality materials will also improve, with more manufacturers rushing to feel the current gap.
  • We can also expect a rise in the number of eco-friendly designs.
  • Construction Top Tips
  • Here we call on our panel of experts to share what they have learnt about the construction and maintenance industry in Cambodia.
+ Make sure you do your forward planning
  • Being clear and concise with your vision can go a long way in Cambodia.
  • Being clear with your expectations and explaining exactly what you want can save time in the long run.
  • Plan ahead, buy ahead and have things ready on site for the contractors so that measurements and the small details can be concentrated on.
+ Make sure you shop around
  • With standards varying massively when it comes to construction quality and delivery, when it comes to choosing a contractor, doing your research will undoubtedly pay off.
  • The same applies when on the hunt for materials and tools, with several products potentially needing to be imported.
  • Often more high-end or unique products have to be bought from abroad.
+ Stay safe
  • Despite the enforcement of health and safety laws and rules and regulations being lax in Cambodia, there are firms that adhere to the standards practised in more developed countries.
  • There are lots of health and safety issues in Cambodia so the requirements vary greatly. This can add to the cost, for example, when using the correct scaffolding.
  • People and Labour in Cambodian Construction
  • If you want to build in Cambodia the first thing you will need are skilled human resources.
  • Get the latest on the People and Labour market in Cambodian constructions and maintenance below.
+ Is there a shortage of skilled construction workers in Cambodia?
  • The recent decline in the number of available labourers in Cambodia has also triggered a downturn in skilled construction workers.
  • In recent years, fears have been raised that the sector faced a huge labour shortage because of the boom in projects across the country as well as a rise in workers migrating to Thailand in search of higher paid work.
  • This has led to a lack of specialised skilled labourers, though NGOs such as Friends and PSE have developed programmes to provide skilled workers to the industry.
  • Certified tradesmen such as electricians, plumbers and welders are quite hard to come by in Cambodia and standards are often lower than in more developed countries.
  • However, standards of workmanship, though continuously improving, are generally lower than in western countries, and an inability to communicate effectively in English can be a challenge for non-Khmer speaking customers.
  • Such concerns, of course, should be balanced against the low salaries for which labourers work, although ensuring work is done to an acceptable standard may require continuous attention.
  • Another common problem businesses often run into is the culture clash that can occur due to local attitudes towards deadlines and, at times, standards when compared to some Western countries.
+ How can I get the most out of my workers in Cambodia?
  • Constant supervision of the “local crew” is common in Cambodia and the rest of Asia.
  • Offering training up to company standards is another option, which many larger companies carry out.
  • Hiring English-speaking workers or someone who can coordinate the activities of your labourers is to a great extent a question of whether you personally have the time and experience to provide guidance to the crew.
+ Can foreigners become construction workers, architects or designers in Cambodia?
  • As a foreigner, finding a basic construction job is fairly unlikely as most of these jobs will go to locals given their considerably lower salary requirements.
  • Positions that require longer experience and higher education such as architects and engineers, or those directing the construction projects, are most likely to be filled by foreigners, though there is an ever-growing number of Cambodians with international experience.
+ Can I hire reliable contractors in Cambodia?
  • Firms in Cambodia operate in a number of ways – as contractors and construction companies or developers. For larger building projects, even those granted by the government, foreign firms are often the main contractors.
  • This is true for infrastructure projects like the railroad rehabilitation, dams and other major civil engineering projects. Phnom Penh’s biggest towers are all being or have been built by foreign firms.
  • That is not to say that Cambodian firms don’t take part in the construction and development of the country.
  • Many of these firms are subcontractors, which do the vast majority of the work on any project, working with the contractor rather than interfacing directly with client.
+ Are professionals available that are skilled in architecture & interior design?
  • As Phnom Penh continues to boom, space is rapidly running out in the capital. This has made it increasingly difficult to find premises fit for a business’s needs.
  • As more international architects arrive in the city, the creativity when it comes to designs is growing.
  • Local architecture and interior design firm are also rapidly growing in number, offering reliable and affordable services, and providing a platform for local young professionals to develop professionally. Re-Edge Architecture & Design, for example, recently completed the design of boutique hotel Lumiere.
  • Businesses moving to Cambodia often have grand plans of transforming dilapidated buildings into new ventures, such as bars, hotels and restaurants, or even creating their own office space with a Western finish.
  • The country now offers a range of services to help businesses create the ideal space to work in.
  • However, restrictively short leases are often offered to foreign businesses. This creates impediments to renovations.
+ What do I look for in a quality architect or interior designer in Cambodia?
  • The quality, choice and style of architects and engineers – especially structural – is constantly improving.
  • A lot of the older buildings in Phnom Penh are from the 60s, and they’re now at the end of their life. Their design life was only 30 to 40 years and now they’re showing signs of collapse at some point.
  • This is why it’s vital to recruit the expertise of good engineers when carrying out renovation or construction work.
  • There are good engineers around, however, there’s also a lot of average ones.
  • When it comes to choosing an architect or interior designer to help revamp or create a workspace, don’t focus solely on budget. You get what you pay for and it’s important to remember this – especially if poor quality work will lead to a direct danger to your safety.
+ What other specialists are available to assist with my construction projects?
  • Many companies in the country specialise in a particular aspect of construction, such as security, electricity, IT, infrastructure and plumbing.
  • Most developers will call upon specialty services for their particular construction needs to ensure the work is done right the first time. An increasing number of firms will specialise in specific types of projects.
  • In particular, restaurants, bars and hotels have in recent years become big business for many foreigners, and several now provide high quality construction and design solutions.
  • Some offer a turnkey solution to starting such a business so that everything is handled for the owner from finding and leasing the property, to construction, business registration and hiring staff.
  • There is currently a push for more internal industry to develop. Some services, such as the supply, installation and maintenance of solar energy systems, for example, have been successfully operated by locally owned and managed companies for many years.
  • Construction firms in Cambodia operate in a number of ways—as contractors, construction companies or developers.
  • For larger projects, even those granted by the government, foreign firms are often the main contractors.
  • This is also true for infrastructure projects like the railroad rehabilitation, dams and other major civil engineering projects.
  • Phnom Penh’s biggest towers are all being or have been built by foreign firms.
  • That is not to say that Cambodian firms don’t take part in the construction and development of the country. Many of these firms are subcontractors, which do the vast majority of the work on any project, working with the contractor rather than interfacing directly with client.
  • An increasing number of firms in the country specialise in a particular aspect of construction, such as security, electricity, IT, infrastructure or plumbing.
  • Most developers will call upon specialty services for their particular construction needs to ensure the work is done right the first time.
  • Ensure you do a lot of site visits during the construction process to make sure that all contractors are following the plan properly. When working with some local contractors, it might pay to make the design simpler than you might in other countries. However, this should ensure it will be able to be done well.
  • It is also important make sure that the materials required by the design are easily available.
  • Always do your due diligence on any subcontractors and, remember, in Cambodia you get what you pay for.
+ Are service maintenance companies available in Cambodia?
  • It hard to find capable engineers to maintain buildings, given the difficulty in finding local workers with the necessary qualifications and experience required when maintaining a building.
  • Given the substantial differences in salaries for foreigners and locals, it doesn’t make financial sense to employ a foreigner with the necessary skills if a local can do the job just as well, especially if the foreigner is unable to speak Khmer.
  • Some businesses have worked for years to train up their staff while others will turn to local service providers as needed for individual developments.
  • That said, systems such as a building’s electrical wirings have often been poorly installed in the first place, in which case more than mere regular maintenance is necessary, with a complete rewiring job often being required.
  • Bits and Pieces
  • Here’s where to find all your necessary construction materials, supplies and equipment for any Cambodian construction projects.
+ Where do I find building materials and supplies?
  • With construction being one of the country’s main industries, basic building materials are readily available. But for specialist or specially-designed products, importing is still the only way.
  • In general, building materials such as bricks and concrete are cheap and used extensively across Cambodia.
  • However, if it’s a modern Western style that you are after, then importing is almost the only way despite a rise in choice.
  • And the same can be said if Western standard construction is what you’re after.
  • Anything semi high-end may need to be imported – and then you don’t know whether it’s going to take one month or three months, or whether or not it’s going to get stuck in customs.
  • Because the majority of materials are imported, the price is driven up. But most can be sourced from Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore.
+ Where can I buy or hire building equipment?
  • Most equipment that you would expect to find is available in Cambodia as suppliers, retailers and service companies have entered the market with the growing development taking place.
  • Many of the major brands and equipment can be found and specialised equipment is easily imported, so virtually any project is theoretically possible.
  • However, logistics in Cambodia is a challenge because of small roads especially in rural areas.
  • No additional licenses are required for large equipment such as cement trucks, cranes or bulldozers.
  • Often the operator owns the equipment though there are companies who lease it as well. Just as there is no need for any special licensing for the equipment, there is rarely a need to seek permission for the use of heavy equipment, even in urban areas.
  • This may change as the Phnom Penh municipality in particular has begun to put restrictions on trucking through the city streets but, given planning and construction permission, you should have no problems.
  • Generators are often necessary for construction projects and are commonly part of the design of newer buildings as Cambodia still suffers from regular power outages, especially during the hotter months of April and May when demand for electricity regularly outstrips the available supply.
+ Is it possible to maintain eco-friendly & energy efficient building techniques in Cambodia?
  • Some renewables services, such as the supply, installation and maintenance of solar energy systems, have been successfully operated by locally owned and managed construction companies for several years.
  • Companies are increasingly looking at options for renewable energies, especially solar and wind, and any way that renewables can be involved in mainstream construction projects, and also how building design can become more energy efficient.
  • Cambodia is a great market for solar energy: it has 5.8 peak sunlight hours a day, one of the best solar resources in the entire region.
  • Arguably, Cambodia’s potential in solar is not being met, however. To date, the bulk of solar panels installed in the Kingdom belong to small solar home systems (SHS) built on households in the countryside. Only a handful of larger solar energy ventures have been undertaken or are planned, all of them having been announced within the last two years.
  • According to a recent report by the Mekong Strategic Partners (MSP) titled Switching On: Cambodia’s Path to Sustainable Energy Security, the costs associated with solar power are falling rapidly, so much so that Cambodia can now, according to the study, cost-effectively strengthen its energy security by accelerating investment in solar and biomass technologies.
  • According to the MSP report, solar installations above one megawatt can now provide electricity profitably for as low as 12 cents/kWh, which makes it “the most competitively priced alternative renewable energy technology”.
  • Various lobby groups are in discussion and the support for this innovation is growing.
  • More and more options are available.
  • This is a good step for a country like Cambodia with clear limitations in regards to domestically available energy.
  • However, many of these improvements we are experiencing are client-driven.
  • Many new and proposed developments include energy efficient measures, such as ground source cooling and nanoleaf lightbulbs.
  • The new Aeon Mall project also incorporates solar panels into the design.
  • The new Coca-Cola plant in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone has a photovoltaic (PV) system in the rooftop that will eventually supply a third of the factory’s electrical energy needs, while Khmer Beverages recently installed 10,000 panels to help power its beer factory.
  • High-end residential building Silvertown Metropolitan has a PV panel installation that will eventually supply 12 percent of its energy needs.
  • Products such as the nanoleaf lightbulb are also entering the market at a reasonable price.
  • Other measures, such as double-glazed windows are available and by investing in eco-friendly initiatives such as this, businesses can save up to 40% off their energy bill.
  • Registration and Regulations
  • Here’s all you need to know about current regulatory standards and registration expectations for any new construction projects in Cambodia.
+ Who do I need to register new construction projects with?
  • The Cambodian Ministry of Urban Planning, Construction and Land Management is ultimately responsible for the issuance of construction permits, planning and licensing.
  • The head office is on Monivong Boulevard, Phnom Penh, with regional offices in provincial centres.
  • Unlike western and some neighbouring countries, planning permission isn’t strictly enforced and zoning is rarely an issue.
+ Do I need a permit to build in Cambodia?
  • Yes. The Ministry of Urban Planning, Construction and Land is ultimately responsible for the issuance of construction permits, planning and licensing.
  • The head office is on Monivong Boulevard, Phnom Penh, with regional offices in provincial centres.
  • Take note that unlike Western and some neighbouring countries, planning permission isn’t always strictly enforced in Cambodia and zoning is rarely an issue.
  • The construction of new buildings, and renovation of existing structures involving a substantial degree of remodelling, for residential or commercial purposes, requires prior approval from the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning & Construction in the form of a permit.
  • In the city areas the permit should be signed by a government official, usually someone at district (khan) or commune (sangkat) level, whereas in provincial areas permission should be sought from the provincial governor.
  • Commercial buildings larger than 3,000 square metres will also require approval at ministerial level, as do certain projects under consideration by the Council of Ministers or the CDC (Council for the Development of Cambodia).
  • Some projects in Siem Reap are regulated by the Apsara Authority, who hold the exclusive right to grant permits in the Angkor site.
  • To apply for a permit, the construction or renovation plans, drawn up by an architect with recognised qualifications, should be submitted to the relevant authority by the owner of the land or building, or his authorised representative.
  • The plans must be accompanied by the relevant application documents completed in Khmer. In the case of industrial buildings, information should also be attached detailing how any environmental issues will be handled.
  • Fees vary according to the size of the project, but a small renovation project authorised at communal level will typically cost from $1-300, and up to $1000 for projects requiring permission from district level.
  • Major projects requiring ministerial approval will of course be more expensive.
  • The office has 45 days in which to approve (or disallow) the project, and construction must begin within one year of the approval being granted, though one extension is generally allowed.
  • Following the completion of the construction project, and (in the case of a public building) prior to the building being opened to the public, the project must be approved by means of a certificate to demonstrate that the construction was successfully accomplished in accordance with the approved plans.
+ How about construction standards and regulations?
  • As more foreigners move to the country and development continues to pick up pace, the standards and quality of construction have also risen.
  • A draft for a new construction law is currently being considered The key building law currently in place is the Law of Management and Planning of Urban Construction (1994).
  • Until now, international developers have been bringing their own standards of construction practice to projects inside Cambodia.
  • One issue with using local Cambodian companies is the lack of standards and regulations.
  • There are numerous Cambodians who can provide services at a lower price but may lack the training of a certified electrician or plumber.
  • Ensuring a proper working infrastructure will enable your building to operate to its fullest capability and getting repairs done in a timely fashion is always important.
  • The Cambodian government is in the process of setting up standards for MEP and construction, though currently most people follow French, Australian, British or American standards.
Hospitality & Tourism
Hospitality & Tourism

Fancy a holiday in Cambodia for business or pleasure? Or maybe you are looking to join the burgeoning tourism industry?

This section covers all your bases. ALPHA International Corporation Cambodia has pulled together a summary of tourism industry tips in Cambodia and the various facilities available to individual and corporate users, plus information relating to traveling into and around the country.

If you can’t find your answer here, please kindly contact ALPHA International Corporation Ltd.

+ How important is tourism to Cambodia?
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen announced recently that Cambodia attracted 4.5 million tourists over the course of 2014, an increase of 5.9% over the previous year. Speaking at the opening of the World Conference on Tourism and Culture, Mr. Hun Sen was optimistic for the future of Cambodia’s tourism industry: “The projection for 2020 is 7.5 million inbound tourists that generate $5 billion in terms of revenues and 80,000 jobs. In addition, Cambodia’s tourism campaign of “Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder” and the competition movement of “Clean City, Clean Resort, Good Service” have greatly helped promote Cambodia’s prestige in the region and in the world.” Mr. Hun Sen predicts that increased tourism will play a strong role in driving the Cambodian economy’s 7% growth this year. Mr. Hun Sen explained, “Truly, the tourism sector is not only a socio-economic sector that helps sustain economic growth, create jobs and reduce poverty, but is also considered an important sector that supports regional integration.”
  • Siem Reap was named number 2 destination in the world, after Marrakesh, Morocco, in the 2015 TripAdvisor “Travelers’ Choice” awards for the the world best destinations.
+ When are Cambodia’s tourism seasons?
  • Tourism in Cambodia is seasonal with the “high season” running from November to March.
  • July and August are popular with Western tourists because of the school summer holidays and June and September are the quietest months.
  • If you are setting up a tourist-reliant business make sure you factor in the low season and the lack of income impact into your business plan.
  • The low season is being marketed by some vendors as “green season” and doesn’t appear to scare away regional Asian travelers as much as some might first suspect.
+ What are the tourism trends taking place in the Kingdom?
  • Cambodia benefits from being part of the Indochina/Southeast Asia circuit—an enticing set of affordable destinations for many contemporary explorers.
  • Yet, due to this, short stays are the norm in Cambodian tourism, as visitors tend to cram as many neighbouring countries as possible into a few weeks of yearly vacation time.
  • Furthermore, reliance on regional tourism infrastructure has a direct impact on Cambodian tourism as when the surrounding region is unsettled, such as during the Thai coup or Vietnamese anti-Chinese riots in 2014, Cambodian tourism is adversely affected, regardless of whether or not regional events have any actual ramifications on the country.
  • One contributor to this issue is the current lack of direct long-haul flights coming into Cambodia from worldwide destinations.
  • Cambodia relies on transfers from nearby regional hubs, especially Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong.
  • As direct long-haul flights increase, this problem will lessen.
  • Tourism continues to increase it is spreading further afield than the traditional tourist hotspots of Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and the coast.
  • The private sector — through mechanisms like the Cambodia Tourism Federation — is finding platforms to better advertise some of the diversity of Cambodia as a destination.
  • Beyond this, the private sector is currently coordinating with the Ministry of Tourism in order to jointly organise a calendar of yearly events (such as festivals, fairs and exhibitions) that will help to further promote Cambodia with both tourists and business people alike.
  • Visitors to Kampot, Kep and Battambang are also seeing a rise, as are cruise trip services, aqua expeditions and golf tourism.
  • Water tourism along the Mekong is also steadily growing.
+ Which demographic makes up the majority of tourists?
  • Cambodia’s hospitality and tourism industry has already moved from focusing on backpackers and expanded their target market on other visitors. There has been a significant increase in middle income and upper income people, especially families, to visit Cambodia.
  • Visitors from America, the UK, Europe and Australia continue to steadily flow into Cambodia. However, over recent years there has been a boom in Asian tourists.
  • Vietnam remains number one, although they are more frugal than other markets. The strongest tourist arrivals to Cambodia are the Chinese, the Vietnamese, and the South Koreans, and more and more Japanese are coming too.
  • The recent boom in Asian mass tourism is misleading in terms of the Cambodian tourism industry’s development though – as it doesn’t encourage trickle down wealth to the local market, as generally expected from responsible tourism growth.
  • Inter-Asian tourism agencies often create their own tourism infrastructure inside Cambodia – limiting the flow on of wealth to the local market.
  • Chinese tour groups, for instance, generally take Chinese owned and operated chartered tours, stay at Chinese owned or endorsed hotels, eat at Chinese restaurants, and gamble at Chinese endorsed casinos.
  • This means the local economy doesn’t benefit to the extent it does with a more independent traveller.
+ Where does Cambodia’s future in tourism lie?
  • With the integration of ASEAN on the cards, it is predicted the Cambodia will increasingly become used as a business destination.
  • Cheaper conference facilities, such as those on Diamond Island, and an increasing number of direct flights from business hubs, including Singapore and Hong Kong, add to this trend.
+ What affects will Cambodia’s entry into ASEAN have on tourism?
  • People will be able to move freely around the region, meaning there is open immigration for workers.
  • This is likely to increase competition for labour more so than already exists, and drive up costs of hiring and retaining tourism professionals within Cambodia.
+ How is the face of tourism changing in Cambodia?
  • Tourism has rapidly changed in Cambodia with the influx of visitors contributing greatly to the changing face of the country.
  • The number of tourism industry competitors is increasing at a rapid rate, but this may be a good thing.
  • It means businesses must set their own benchmarks; improve design, create events, and increase visibility, continually.
  • Investing in branding and finding a unique selling point that sets you apart from the rest are two elements that will help you to succeed in hospitality in Cambodia. It is important to remain adaptable, and open to changing trends.
  • Phnom Penh’s boutique hotel boom is a great example of popular and recent diversification in the midrange hospitality market.
  • Boutique hotels priced between $50 and $120 a night are widely available in Phnom Penh (and Siem Reap), and typically offer a more personal service than the major brands.
  • Demand has changed, and continues to change, with tourists expecting a wider range of experiences and standards of service.
+ Is there a shortage of skilled tourism professionals in Cambodia?
  • As the industry continues to expand, the supply of experienced, talented staff struggles to keep pace with growing demand.
  • This remains true despite the existence of several high-end and mid-range training schools.
  • Additionally, the hospitality industry faces competition from growing sectors such as banking, sales and telecommunications where service-oriented staff are in high demand, and where these companies are able to afford higher salaries as incentives to staff.
  • Staff poaching in the tourism and hospitality industry is rife in Cambodia, as it is elsewhere in the region. This will only increase with the conglomeration of ASEAN labour markets.
  • For business owners, dealing with this problem is not just about remuneration, it’s also about selection, training and development; offering staff incentives and a clear career path and promotions.
  • In the hospitality industry you need to be very proactive in retaining and developing talent.
+ How is the internet impacting tourism in Cambodia?
  • The rapid ascent of Cambodia’s inbound tourism market has coincided with a staggering increase in the rate of internet use.
  • The frequent use and reliance on Facebook and other social networking sites means that every time a happy holiday maker uploads their holiday photos on Facebook and tags a tourism venue or service, a free advertisement is spread across social media channels.
  • This can be a double-edged sword, with the potential for unmoderated criticism to be widely spread also.
  • The key to social media therefore is attention, updating often and monitoring constantly.
  • Naturally, this has also facilitated a rapid rise in people using user review sites such as TripAdvisor.
  • For some, it is a means of leveling the marketing platform between the huge budgets and the miniscule.
  • As long as services are well rated, even the smallest bed and breakfast can compete in free advertising online.
  • Click-through booking websites also put power into the consumer’s hands.
  • The largest of these sites, agoda.com and booking.com, now link to thousands of hotels in Cambodia.
  • While international and larger hotels will headline their own websites with booking options, smaller operations are forced to rely on these online travel agents. These sites charge between 10 and 20 percent commission—add to that a 2.5 percent credit card charge and 10 percent VAT and it soon adds up.
+ What software solutions are available to players in the Cambodian tourism industry?
  • Software solutions catering to the hospitality industry can also be a big help to those setting up.
  • Information systems allow data from different elements of the company, such as front-end, back office and restaurant to be compiled and analysed.

Other features include inventory control, reservations, guest comments, and room vacancy.
Tourism Top Tips
Here we call on our panel of experts to share what they have learnt about being a success in Cambodia’s fiercely competitive hospitality and tourism sector.

+ Make sure you take time to plan ahead
  • Gone are the days when all it took was hiring a small shop house, putting a few rattan chairs outside and a noticeboard with a name outside to make a few bucks.
  • Cambodia has evolved and the capital and other urban areas now offer a wealth of choice for that spans the diverse pockets of tourists that today visit the country.
  • However, many foreign investors still fail to acknowledge the need to carry out strategic planning to survive in this over-saturated market. So many go bankrupt before they open because people underestimate what you have to do here.
  • Anyone wanting to start a bar, restaurant or hotel needs to be a lot more professional than they used to need to be. Demand has changed and tourists expect more these days.
+ Stand out from the crowd
  • Competition is fierce and now you have to be innovative and do something different to make yourself stand out from the crowd.
  • Investing in branding and finding a unique selling point that sets you apart from the rest are two elements that will help in hospitality.
  • There’s no easy money, including in Cambodia. If you have a good idea, are prepared to work like crazy and have enough cash to invest in the business – only then can you succeed.
  • While succeeding in Phnom Penh is easier than say Europe, people still misjudge it and think it’s even easier here than it is.
+ Always play fair
  • Skilled hospitality workers are seriously lacking despite several high-end training schools so recruiting and retaining good staff is vital.
  • Easy ways to achieve these are to pay a fair salary, take time hiring the correct person and then training them.
  • Continued training is essential and incentives also offer benefits to employees, such as health insurance and social activities.
+ Be prepared for some challenges
Be prepared for some challenges
  • Cambodia’s reliance on the region has a direct impact on tourism.
  • Being part of a larger trip to Indochina means when the surrounding region is unsettled, such as the Thai coup, it also affects Cambodia.
  • This is regardless of whether or not it has any ramifications on the country.
  • The reason is mainly because of the lack of direct long-haul flights coming into Cambodia and there are few alternative ways to enter without crossing other countries.
  • Don’t underestimate the actual cost involved to set up a venture in Cambodia and the time that it will take to start making a respectable profit.
Accommodation and facilities available in Cambodia
No matter how you like to travel, Cambodia will always have a place for you to lay your head; from $2 backpackers beds, to $2000 a night 5 star luxury resorts.
Increasingly too, the Kingdom is offering facilities for corporate events and business travelers.
+ What type of accommodation is available in Cambodia?
  • Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have the largest variety of hotels and guesthouses and are each home to a range of internationally branded hotels such as Raffles, Le Méridien, Sofitel and InterContinental.
  • Sofitel Luxury Hotels in Cambodia has been selected in the much anticipated Condé Nast Traveler’s Reader’s Choice Awards. More than 70,000 voters worldwide elect their favorite hotels based on location, rooms, design, service and gastronomy. Thousands of reader’s voted for the Sofitel Hotels in Cambodia with Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra scoring 88.3/100 to rank 4th best hotel in Southeast Asia and 31st best hotel in Asia.
  • In addition to these, the Sokha Hotel on Chroy Changva peninsula has now opened for business. It has over 700 rooms and a 3000 person capacity meeting hall. In future, the hotel is considering applying for a casino license, and plans to offer a connecting ferry service across the river to the mainland, berthing at the Cambodiana Hotel.
  • The Shangri-La Hotel will also open in Phnom Penh in 2019, a further addition to the capital’s luxury hotel offerings.
  • Many hotels, particularly in Phnom Penh, target the business market and provide additional services such as business lounges, meeting facilities and secretarial assistance.
  • Cheap international calls are available with rates as low as 3 cents a minute to many destinations.
  • Internet access is improving continuously and the majority of hotels, as well as restaurants and cafés, offer free wireless services.
  • The breadth and quality of services vary considerably as some areas of Cambodia, such as Siem Reap and coastal areas, have developed more quickly than others.
  • Prices range depending on location and the range of services on offer, and generally vary during the year with bargains to be had in the quieter months when occupancy rates drop dramatically.
  • In many cases, good rates can be secured via online booking sites such as Agoda, although booking directly through a hotel is often the cheapest option. Boutique hotels priced between US$30 and US$120 a night are widely available in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and typically offer a more personal service than the major brands.
  • Accommodation in Cambodia is cheap in comparison to many of its neighbours, especially Hong Kong and Singapore where a 20 square metre room in a basic business hotel can go for upwards of $200 a night.
  • By comparison, a decent guesthouse in Cambodia can cost between $15 and $20 a night.
  • Sihanoukville has two upscale hotels (the Independence and Sokha Beach Resort), as well as a wide range of low to mid-range options. Elsewhere in the country, hotel facilities are generally fairly basic though there are a few higher-end resorts in areas such as Kompong Thom, Koh Kong, Ratanakkiri, Kep and even on top of Bokor Mountain in Kampot Province.
  • The average quality of service across the hospitality industry is far higher than we have ever seen in Cambodia to date.
  • Yet, there is still room for more hotels and guest houses, especially in more niche markets and destinations.
  • In the last 12 months on TripAdvisor, an astounding 120 restaurants have opened, bringing it to a total of 945 restaurants in Phnom Penh alone. So all it does is reduce the captive dining market and spreads it very thin, especially in an industry that works on very little profit with ever increasing running costs.
+ Are corporate facilities available in Cambodia?
  • The rapid growth of the Cambodian tourism market in recent years has not failed to catch the attention of international companies seeking a destination for MICE (Meetings, Incentive trips, Conferences and Events).
  • Many tour operators in Cambodia now arrange MICE trips and events, usually receiving clients through travel companies or organisers based in clients’ home countries.
  • Seminars, conventions, exhibitions, incentive trips and reward vacations, all help boost Cambodia as a place where business people come for more than just the scenery.
  • Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island Convention Center and Angkor CoEX in Siem Reap each have the capacity for Conventions and Exhibitions.
  • International chains such as Raffles and Sofitel are present in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and offer exclusive MICE inclusive packages. The third MICE-ready locale in Cambodia is Sihanoukville, with two large international-standard hotels.
+ What sort of tour companies exist inside Cambodia?
  • Tour companies and guides, of which there are dozens, range considerably in price, quality, languages and services offered.
  • Many upscale overseas tour operators now offer itineraries in Cambodia, teaming up with local ground operators to provide high quality tours for discerning customers.
  • Higher end tours provide unique room and board as well as adventures and exotic methods of transportation such as riding an elephant or taking an ATV through the jungle.
  • Off-road motorcycle and mountain bike trips, ranging from a couple of days to a couple of weeks, are offered by several operators, while “eco” and adventure tourism are becoming an increasingly popular specialty.
  • The majority continue to focus primarily on the temples of Angkor, in some cases adding a few days in Phnom Penh or the beach.
  • Ongoing improvements to road networks, especially in the provinces of Ratanakkiri and Mondulkiri, have significantly reduced travel times and these once remote areas are now finding their way onto several tour operators’ maps.
+ Is it easy to travel around Cambodia?
  • The most common means of transport (especially for local people) is the moto or motodop, known in English as moped.
  • Other forms of transport include tuk tuks, which are carriages pulled by a moto, and cyclos which are three wheeled bicycles with a passenger seat at the front.
  • Cyclos are rarely seen outside Phnom Penh and, with their numbers in decline, are now used mainly by tourists and the elderly.
  • Prices vary for motos and tuk tuks depending on the number of passengers, distance travelled, destination and time of day, with short moto trips costing from around 3000 Riel (US$0.75).
  • Taxis are becoming more common in urban centres and can be cheaper than taking a tuk tuk or moto.
  • A handful of metered taxi firms now operate in Phnom Penh, with prices from as little as a dollar for a short trip.
  • Taxis are also frequently used for cross-country travel and can be quite affordable especially if you are travelling in a group.
  • Buses and mini-buses are a common means of transport between cities. Larger coaches travel between the major urban centres while more remote locations are generally serviced by smaller minibuses. Minibuses can be found at Phnom Penh’s larger markets.
  • The rail system is being rehabilitated, with a few sections of track in operation but used solely to haul freight.
  • Passenger boats operate between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap but are fairly expensive in comparison to the bus.
  • Ferries are used for river crossings.
Airport Essentials
Cambodia currently has three operational airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, which cater to international flights. Here’s all you need to know to use them smoothly.
+ What is new in the Cambodian air travel sector?
  • In a bid to boost tourism and cater for the ever-increasing number of visitors to the country, in January 2014 work started on a $100-million dollar project to expand passenger terminals at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap international airports. The development will see an extension of parking lots and terminals, including more check-in and immigration counters and new baggage handling systems.
  • The current construction is the first phase of an expansion program to upgrade facilities and address the rising number of visitors. Both airport capacities will be doubled to five million until 2015.
  • When completed, it is estimated Siem Reap and Phnom Penh will be able to welcome up to 10 million passengers to Cambodia a year. This will equate to more passengers and more routes being introduced.
  • However, capacity is not expected to increase much as the runways are not being extended.
  • Siem Reap is the larger of the two international airports and processes the majority of tourist traffic. Both airports have been upgraded over the past couple of years and each offers facilities and amenities in line with international service standards.
  • Neither airport currently accepts direct long-haul international flights and most airlines use Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei or Ho Chi Minh City as regional hubs.
  • While direct flights between Phnom Penh and Europe or the USA would do a lot to boost visitors to the country, they will require significant airport infrastructure improvements – especially to the runways that currently cannot handle the larger aircrafts.
  • Airline offices are commonly found in downtown Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, or at the airports themselves. The actual services available at each office will vary – keep in mind too that customer service lines are not always open in Cambodia, staff may not always speak English and consequently calls may need to be made to Singapore, Malaysia or Thailand.
  • A local travel agent will usually be able to help if the airline is unresponsive.
  • During the last two years, Cambodia has become directly connected to more destinations across the globe as airlines unveil a series of new routes to China and the rest of the region. In November 2012, the country lost out when Air France withdrew from the country, but it didn’t take long for Qatar Airways to take its place, launching direct flights with Doha in February 2013.
  • Cambodia Angkor Air, the national flag carrier, is one airline that has experienced huge growth year-on-year, seeing a 27% increase in passengers in the first half of 2013 and predicting to take five million by 2015 and seven million by 2020.
  • Tourism and hospitality is regulated by the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Economics and Finance.
  • There are two industry associations operating in Cambodia: the Cambodia Restaurant Association and the Cambodia Hotel Association. They represent the industry to the government.
  • Japan’s and Cambodia’s governments are in talks to sign an agreement which will allow Japanese airlines to service all 10 ASEAN states, when the region integrates at the end of 2015.
+ Can I get a Cambodian Visa at the airport?
  • Visitors to Cambodia can get a visa on arrival at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap airport, simply by filling in a form, providing two passport photos and paying the requisite fee.
  • A basic tourist visa costs US$30 and is valid for a month, and can be extended for one more month. As of October 2014, you can now apply online for a tourist evisa: www.evisa.gov.kh
  • The Cambodian Foreign ministry warns visitors of the many fraudulent visa websites as: cambodiaevisa.com, welovecambodia.com, evisacambodia.com, cambodiaonarrival.com, eVisa-Cambodia.com etc.
  • Business visas, which are now referred to as an ordinary visa (E class), cost US$35 for a month and can be extended indefinitely by up to one year at a time without any requirement to leave the country.
  • Having a job or a business is not required to obtain a business visa, however should one wish to change from a tourist visa to a business visa they must first leave and then re-enter the country.
+ Where can I find flight schedules to and from Cambodia?
  • Most flights arriving into, or departing from, Cambodia operate during the working day, though there are also several late evening departures to Korea and China.
  • There are currently about 20 airlines operating in the country including regional operators such as AirAsia, Bangkok Airways and Silk Air, and international airlines such as Thai Airways International and Qatar Airways.
  • Flight schedules can be found on airline websites and Cambodia Airport’s website.
+ Am I liable for any tax or customs excise when entering Cambodia?
  • Upon arrival in Cambodia, travelers must fill in a customs declaration form and submit it to the customs official.
  • In cases where self selection routes are operated, passengers have the option of making their customs declaration in either the Red Channel or the Green.
  • Outbound passengers should note that the export of antiquities requires a permit from Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts as well as an export permit from the General Department of Customs and Excise.
+ What do I need to think about when I start a new business in the industry?
  • Do a feasibility study: Dozens of restaurants close every year in the capital due to a lack of long term planning.
  • Pick concept and target market carefully: Look at your prospective market and target your business very specifically.
  • Choose location carefully: In hospitality and tourism, location is key. Based on your concept and target market, choose the location that’s right for you.
  • Plan projected budget meticulously: Make sure registration and legal fees are factored in. Add an extra 15% of leeway onto your projected amount of capital and time.
  • Prepare for growth: The hospitality and tourism market is poised for enormous growth in the near future. If you don’t prepare for growth, you risk your competitors overtaking you.
  • Account for seasonality: From March to June you can expect a significant drop in the number of visitors to the country. Account for this in your business plan.
  • Make full use of social media: Social media outlets are a great way to promote your business, and can be key to your success.
+ How do I apply for a tourism vendor licence?
  • The Ministry of Tourism launched a new online system in April 2015 for the registration of tourism related businesses and tour guides. The intention of the new process is to increase the efficiencies of the licence inspection process, and increase government revenues through compliance.
  • The new system is slated to fully replace the traditional registration process by 2016.
  • To aid tax collection and accountability, each business will now be issued an ID and Quick Response Code.
  • Currently, the Government predicts around 30 per cent of tourism vendors are unlicenced.
  • The old system requires businesses to submit a list of documents at the ministry’s provincial tourism departments, then, the documents are sent to the ministry in Phnom Penh for approval. It is much slower and difficult than the new model.
  • Businesses and tour guides can now visit www.cambodiatourismindustry.org to submit their online applications.
  • Each new licence will be issued three days after submission. The system will notify businesses a month before their licence is up for yearly renewal.
IT & Communications
IT & Communications

As a rising number of young Cambodians get their hands on the country’s available technologies, the IT sector is one that is exploding. Demand for the internet, mobile phones and other forms of technology continue to increase, with the younger generation realising the future potential in this area.

Here’s an overview of the telecommunications market in Cambodia, including mobile operators, internet service providers and the variety of computer equipment available.

If you can’t find your answer here, please kindly contact ALPHA International Corporation Ltd.

+ What’s on the way in the Cambodian IT sphere?
  • Internet subscribers in Cambodia have grown from 320,000 in 2010 to over 7 millions in 2017.
  • Yet, while the subterranean cables have improved the overall quality of connections, problems still arise. Events such as blackouts and fires can occur that can cause the fibre optic cables to stop working without notice.
  • Historically, Cambodia has been reliant on its neighbours—mainly Vietnam and Thailand—for internet access.
  • However, the country’s first undersea cable was launched in March 2017. The 1,300-kilometre-long Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand (MCT) cable connects the three countries to the existing Asia-America Gateway (AAG), a pan-Pacific submarine cable system that links Southeast Asia to the United States. The project was carried out by Telcotech, a subsidiary of Ezecom, in cooperation with other international telcos.
  • Using a 100 Gbps technology that supports a maximum capacity of at least 30 terabits per second (Tbps), the high-bandwidth MTC cable will provide faster internet speeds coupled with lower prices and more security.
  • A second cable is under development by the Cambodia Fibre Optic Cable Network (CFOCN) to connect the Kingdom to the Asia-Africa-Europe-1 (AAE-1) cable, which links Southeast Asia with Europe and has over 40 Tbps capacity.
  • A third undersea cable project, developed by NTT Communications Corp, is also in the pipeline.
  • The telecoms sector continues to be competitive, as does the ISP market, meaning options are increasing while prices are being driven down.
  • Cambodia’s mobile operators are aggressively building out their 4G networks However, while LTE signals are readily accessible across much of the country, both 3G and 4G data rates are still slow.
  • While LTE networks are becoming more readily accessible in Cambodia, the services are still generally limited in capacity, according to OpenSignal, a company that specializes in wireless coverage mapping.
  • As Cambodian operators add more capacity to their networks, 4G speeds will increase to match LTE’s growing reach.
  • According to a recent study, average connection speed across all networks in Cambodia was 5.7Mb/s, which places the country among the slowest of 87 examined in the report.
  • The country’s three major providers are Cellcard, Metfone and Smart Axiata. Mobile operators offer access to the Internet via 3G and 4G networks, either directly to your telephone, to your computer by using your telephone as a wireless modem, or via a USB dongle.
  • Hutchison Global Communications (HGC) has joined Ezecom to provide enterprise cloud services in the Kingdom in 2015. IbizCloud is an on-demand virtual leased line (ODVLL) for secure data transmission between a customer’s sites via a cloud platform.
  • In 2017, Microsoft launched Office 365 in Cambodia. Microsoft 365 is a complete, intelligent and secure solution that gives employees 1TB of storage per user on Microsoft’s One Drive.
  • To this day, Cambodia is still known for the its heavy reliance on bootlegged software. However, industry insiders report that attitudes are changing fast among business owners, with a rapidly increasing number of companies choosing to buy original software.
+ How reliable are internet services in Cambodia?
  • Events such as blackouts and fires can occur that can cause the fibre optic cables to stop working without notice.
  • Historically, Cambodia has been reliant on its neighbours—mainly Vietnam and Thailand—for internet access.
  • However, the country’s first undersea cable was launched in March 2017. The 1,300-kilometre-long Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand (MCT) cable connects the three countries to the existing Asia-America Gateway (AAG), a pan-Pacific submarine cable system that links Southeast Asia to the United States. The project was carried out by Telcotech, a subsidiary of Ezecom, in cooperation with other international telcos.
  • Using a 100 Gbps technology that supports a maximum capacity of at least 30 terabits per second (Tbps), the high-bandwidth MTC cable will provide faster internet speeds coupled with lower prices and more security.
  • A second cable is under development by the Cambodia Fibre Optic Cable Network (CFOCN) to connect the Kingdom to the Asia-Africa-Europe-1 (AAE-1) cable, which links Southeast Asia with Europe and has over 40 Tbps capacity.
  • A third undersea cable project, developed by NTT Communications Corp, is also in the pipeline.
+ How do I sign up to the available mobile phone operators?
  • There are currently five major mobile phone providers operating in Cambodia. Foreigners are required to show a copy of their passport and visa to buy a registered SIM card.
  • Unregistered SIM cards can be bought from a number of small stalls that line the streets. However, the government announced in 2016 that telecom operators were banned from selling pre-activated SIM cards to consumers. The crackdown on unregistered SIM cards is aimed at reducing criminal activity and protecting national security.
  • The most popular option is pre-paid accounts, with credit again available from multiple street stallholders.
+ What are my internet access options?
  • There are several options available to access the internet depending on your needs. Connecting to the Internet can be done through a fixed connection from an ISP or a mobile connection from a telephone operator.
  • ISPs offer fixed Internet connections, usually either as ADSL, copper or fibre optic.
  • Prices for fixed connections vary depending on speed and data limits. Fibre connections prices are more expensive than ADSL but they seem to go down every month. Opennet and Digi offer great value for money, charging around $30 a month for 12Mbps (megabits per seconds).
  • Mobile operators offer access to the Internet via 3G and 4G networks, either directly to your telephone, to your computer by using your telephone as a wireless modem, or via a dongle.
+ Can I buy reliable computers and laptops in Cambodia?
  • There are an increasing number of retail stores in Cambodia that sell, maintain and repair computers.
  • Some are accredited retailers and resellers for major brands such as Apple, Dell, Acer and HP.
  • Computer equipment is competitively priced, though this seems to vary by brand, and a far wider selection can be found in Bangkok, usually at slightly cheaper prices, especially for the latest models.
  • If you require repairs or maintenance, some of the major retailers such as Anana and PTC have authorised service centres.
  • Mac users are also well served and the country now has a number of authorised service providers, including Uni Young and iOne.
  • Computers here are also prone to failure given the heat, dust and humidity.
  • Most buildings in Cambodia are not earthed and voltage can vary a great deal, potentially damaging computers.
  • Use a voltage stabiliser with Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) to alleviate this risk if computers are important to your business.
+ How valid are warranties in Cambodia?
  • When purchasing goods that come with a warranty, be warned there are several shops falsely claiming to be accredited to authorised brands.
  • It can also be difficult to get warranties honoured.
  • For example, if a laptop is bought in the United States and you want to come to Cambodia, you may need to send a request to transfer the warranty.
  • Also remember that having to have parts sent to other countries to be repaired can mean a long wait for them to be fixed and returned – sometimes up to eight weeks.
  • There are many shops in Cambodia that falsely claim to be accredited to authorised brands, which can spell trouble for consumers when it comes to warranties.
  • Typically, when a part fails in a machine it needs to be sent away from Cambodia – either repaired and then sent back or replaced with a new part.
  • The confusion can occur when the item comes back across the border into Cambodia and is then treated as a brand new product again and potentially re-taxed.
  • Things are changing, however, people have increased confidence that products are not copied anymore.
  • If you are dealing with a registered, authorised dealer, the product is probably genuine.
+ Are there problems regarding internet security in Cambodia?
  • Computer security in Cambodia is a major issue.
  • Caution must be taken when having software or operating systems installed on your computer as in many cases they will be pirated and illegal to use.
  • Such software may not allow updates and consequently any problems you may have can continue to persist throughout the life of the software.
  • Use a reliable anti-virus programme, keep it updated and remember viruses are especially prevalent at Internet cafés and easily transferred via USB thumb drives.
  • Back up data regularly, whether to a DVD or hard drive, or to one of the many available cloud computing services such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft’s OneDrive.
+ Who controls the telecommunications networks in Cambodia?
  • n 2012, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC) launched the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) to regulate the sector.
  • The new Law on Telecommunications was promulgated on 17 December 2015 and seeks to regulate the telecommunications sector. It addresses issues such as management competence, use of infrastructure and networks and standards of service.
  • With the many mobile phone operators and ISPs operating across the country, it is imperative that the ministry be effective in managing disputes between providers, allowing confidence to grow among investors.
  • One issue that the regulatory body deals with is the constant need to meet the demands of users which, with regards to the mobile sector, constitutes 78% of the population.
  • Mobile phone operators such as Hello and Smart have merged, offering consumers and businesses alike greater quality network coverage, capacity and a wider range of products.
  • With so much happening in Cambodia’s telecoms landscape in such a short period of time, the TRC has been criticised by some for not keeping up or failing to operate in a completely independent manner.
  • Telecom Cambodia is Cambodia’s principal telecommunications company but with the introduction of the TRC its position of authority is likely to change as the aim is for the regulator to be an independent body, separate from the Ministry and Telecom Cambodia.

See more details by visiting mptc.gov.kh.

+ Is business software available in Cambodia?
  • There are a range of software solutions handcrafted in Cambodia to help businesses to run smoothly.
  • These range from payroll and HR systems to accounting systems, billing systems, point-of-sales systems, hospitality management systems, enterprise resource planning, and customer databases.
+ How is the Cambodian IT labour pool developing?
  • While there is still a lack of well-trained developers in the country, universities have started adding mobile app development and similar courses to their curriculum to cater for the growing interest in the field.
  • Some back-end technology courses specialising in servers, operating systems, hardware, email servers, web servers, software and operating system security are also increasingly being offered.
  • Mobile apps, programming, 3D animations and website development are just a few things Cambodia is demonstrating a talent for.
  • In terms of learning cycle, there are new programming languages and software tools developed every day, so being a newcomer isn’t a disadvantage in this sector. In many cases, all you need to learn is the latest programing language.
  • TosFUND, Cambodia’s first ever crowdfunding platform, and BookMeBus, a website to buy bus tickets, are home-grown startups that have been recognized both nationally and regionally.
  • Another example is the Khmer Smart Keyboard—a typing app for smartphones, which EZECOM has supported. Typing Khmer using the standard settings on an Apple or a Samsung smartphone is a lot of work – but these developers have come up with an app that cuts typing time by half with a couple of simple adaptations. The truth is no one else, in Silicon Valley or anywhere else in the world, was going to develop something like that for such a small market like Cambodia, so it had to come from here. And it did.
  • In March 2015, USAID’s Cambodia Development Innovations hosted a “Why Technology Should Be a Girl Thing” forum – which aimed to promote increased female participation in the Cambodian technology field.
  • USAID and many others within the industry believe more women in the technology field promotes gender equality as well as innovation and development within the industry.
  • There are a variety of startup companies in Cambodia that are involved in application development.
  • Keep you eyes peeled for app development conferences around Cambodia involving these like-minded business people.
  • IT Top Tips
  • Here’s how to get the most IT in Cambodia, according to our experts.
+ Get connected
  • The cheapest may not be the best when it comes to choosing an internet provider.
  • Cheap connections are slower than what any might be used to outside of Cambodia.
  • Instead, pay slightly more to get internet services with world-class speed and quality.
  • The speed will change with the launch of MTC cable.
+ Harness the local talent pool
  • The talent pool available when it comes to IT and computer programming, developing and designing is gaining strength in Cambodia.
  • New graduates bring the latest skills.
  • Due to the nature of change in technology available for IT development, it’s important to have a number of fresh graduates who understand the latest technology.
  • Experience can become outdated in the technology industry extremely quickly.
  • The Internet in Cambodia
  • All you need to know about the internet and how to get the most out of it in Cambodia.
+ What’s the current state of internet services in Cambodia?
  • The country’s first undersea cable was launched in March 2017. The 1,300-kilometre-long Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand (MCT) cable connects the three countries to the existing Asia-America Gateway (AAG), a pan-Pacific submarine cable system that links Southeast Asia to the United States. The project was carried out by Telcotech, a subsidiary of Ezecom, in cooperation with other international telcos.
  • Using a 100 Gbps technology that supports a maximum capacity of at least 30 terabits per second (Tbps), the high-bandwidth MTC cable will provide faster internet speeds coupled with lower prices and more security.
  • A second cable is under development by the Cambodia Fibre Optic Cable Network (CFOCN) to connect the Kingdom to the Asia-Africa-Europe-1 (AAE-1) cable, which links Southeast Asia with Europe and has over 40 Tbps capacity.
  • A third undersea cable project, developed by NTT Communications Corp, is also in the pipeline.
  • Internet service providers have worked hard over the last few years to improve the speed and quality of connections and these improvements are thanks to advancements in the use of fibre optic cables.
+ What internet connections are available in Cambodia?
  • Fixed Internet connections usually come in the form of ADSL, copper or fibre optic. Prices for fixed connections vary depending on speed and data limits but for $30 a month for a commercial product, a business customer should get at least a 12Mbps connection.
  • With ISPs competing in the market, prices for fixed Internet connections are continuing to fall as access speeds improve.
  • Companies with specific requirements, such as maintaining connectivity throughout a branch network or between local and international headquarters can avail themselves of a number of premium services.
  • These include, virtual private networks (VPNs), local loops, and international private leased circuits. Those with critical documentation should also consider off-site data storage and disaster recovery services.
  • Fixed connections are more stable though mobile connections are clearly advantageous if your business requires you to be on the move. Need a good Internet connection? Consider investing in a dedicated leased line or get a second connection as backup or buy a USB 3G modem to access one of the mobile networks.
  • In terms of ISP offerings, ADSL uses a landline telephone so you will first need to get one installed by Camintel (023 986 789) or Telecom Cambodia (023 211 111).
  • ADSL connections are generally less affected by weather conditions and many operators now offer fibre optic connections, a more reliable option, though they are often priced at a premium.
  • Mobile operators offer access to the Internet via 3G and 4G networks, either directly to your telephone, to your computer by using your telephone as a wireless modem, or via a USB dongle.
  • Smart Mobile 4G launched Cambodia’s first 4G service in January 2014. 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) is a wireless communication standard that is specially designed for mobile data network speeds up to 15mbps.
  • For low volume users mobile data connections can be a very cost effective way to access the Internet, with prices starting from US$4.5 a month for 3GB. For “unlimited” data usage expect to pay around US$50 a month.
+ Tell me more about the state of Information Technology in Cambodia?
  • Cambodia is home to a predominantly young population with rapidly increasing access to the Internet. This has spawned a new generation of techies who are leading what is hoped will be a technology and mobile industry boom.
  • Easy access to the internet has opened up a world of opportunities to Cambodia’s younger generation. Many of whom have snapped up the skills needed to develop innovative mobile apps, programmes and other technology and IT-related initiatives. University and college degrees within the industry have been developed and now cater for a range of subjects within the sector.
  • While there is currently a lack of well-trained developers in the country, universities are started to consider adding mobile app development and similar courses to their curriculum to cater for the growing interest in the field.
  • Phones and Networks
  • Everything you need to know to get talking in Cambodia.
+ What mobile networks are available in Cambodia?
  • Mobile phones are a vital part of Cambodia’s economy and are widely available, new and second-hand.
  • Most mobile phone networks offer 3G and 4G subscription packages that range in price depending on download speed and limit. While rural coverage is patchy, especially in the most remote parts, mobile phone networks are expanding to provide as wide a range of service as possible.
  • Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) is also provided by several networks, allowing cheap international calls. Internet services such as Skype and Viber are also popular options for people wanting to connect with others abroad. Many networks also offer cheap calls to landlines abroad – often costing significantly less than calling someone on another operator in Cambodia so it is worth checking the prices if you plan on using your mobile to make a number of international calls.
  • The latest figures from geeksincambodia.com show that nearly 12.5 million Cambodians (out of population of 16 million) enjoy mobile connections.
+ What sort of phone subscriptions are available?
  • The majority of mobile phone users opt for pre-paid or pay as you go connections where credit is purchased from licensed shops and roadside vendors.
  • Top-up cards are available from US$1 up to US$50, though some operators such as Smart and Cellcard allow users to top up credit electronically and accounts can also be topped up at numerous ATMs.
  • Most operators offer discounted top ups and promotions at regular intervals, especially around public holidays.
  • Telephone credit also has an expiry date – cards are usually valid for a month though higher value top-up cards often have later expiry dates.
  • Post-paid packages are also available from many operators and can offer free calls within the same network for a small monthly fee.
  • However, because credit control is in its infancy in Cambodia, large customers must present a guarantee letter while individuals are expected to pay a deposit for the handset.
  • Some operators also offer free SMSs, Internet access and even a limited number of free international calls.
  • Customers are typically required to pay a deposit of around $50 per phone number for local calls and considerably more for international.
  • These packages are popular with businesses as they often come with a series of options, such as closed user groups offering free calls between employees.
+ Are landlines available in Cambodia?
  • Landline telephones are not as popular as cell phones in Cambodia.
  • However, it lends credibility to a business as it requires the business to have its own premises and be registered with the telecommunications authorities.
  • Additionally, connections to the Internet using ADSL require subscribers to have a landline.
  • If you need a landline, you can contact Camintel (023 986 789) or Telecom Cambodia (023 426 510).
  • A landline costs approximately $15 per month, with a one-off installation fee of around $15.
+ Is mobile roaming available in Cambodia?
  • If you are traveling within the region, several mobile phone operators offer both pre-paid and post-paid roaming services.
  • Charges for the service vary considerably from country to country as they are generally levied by the operator in whichever country you are visiting, and typically range from $2-6 per minute for calls back to Cambodia.
  • You should also expect to pay a deposit, perhaps as high as $500, if you choose to use roaming as part of a post-paid service, or you may be required to provide a corporate guarantee letter from your company or organisation.
  • Data roaming (GPRS and/or 3G) and SMS roaming services are also available from some operators but are also costly.
Legal & Accounting
Legal & Accounting

Here’s a range of info about legal and accounting services in Cambodia, including company registration, due diligence, dispute resolution, tax compliance and services such as consulting and financial analysis.

If you can’t find your answer here, please kindly contact ALPHA International Corporation Ltd.

+ What is the state of the legal system in Cambodia?
  • Cambodia’s legal system has rapidly evolved since the country’s democratic election in 1993 and is now a member of The World Trade Organisation (WTO) and ASEAN.
  • Cambodia was one of the earlier countries to adopt the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), effective from 2012.
  • Cambodian laws are often a mix of those from foreign countries, including UK, USA, Japan and France and are constantly being revised, mended, and new ones introduced.
  • Members of the Cambodian Bar, regardless of citizenship, are the only people allowed to practice law in Cambodia.
  • This means the few international business advisory firms in Cambodia have some foreign lawyers who can act as advisors but not represent clients in court.
  • Those members registered with the Cambodian Bar offer the same services, as you would expect internationally, including due diligence, contract negotiation and intellectual property advice.
  • Laws and legal requirements are issued in a number of ways including: laws adopted by the National Assembly, royal decrees issued by the monarchy, sub-decrees and ministerial orders (known in Khmer as prakas). Given their proliferation, it can sometimes be confusing to determine which proclamation, law or prakas supersedes the others. Ultimately legal counsel should be sought for clarification.
  • Increasingly, law in Cambodia is being drafted with a focus on enforcement and achieving immediate compliance. This is a crucial change in ethos.
  • English is the common language of ASEAN, which means contracts are increasingly written in English. In the future arbitrations, including internationals, may be in English also.
  • Cambodia has higher level of English than its neighbours, and may benefit from this regional conversion.
  • Meanwhile, countries with traditionally strong domestic markets but weaknesses in English language education, may need to increase their English literacy levels if they wish to really thrive in ASEAN economy.
  • Economically, Cambodia has already allowed such free investment for foreigners, meaning ASEAN offers nothing that special in Cambodia compared to its most economically similar neighbours.
  • The biggest changes happening now are not so much in the law as the practical application of laws already on the books. These things have investors scurrying to accountants and lawyers for clarifications.
  • Cambodia has introduced some mechanisms to help SMEs (small to medium enterprises), particularly with regard to getting finance. In late 2015, for example, the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX) launched its Growth Board, a stock-trading platform for SMEs. Companies that wish to be listed in the new platform are required to have a minimum of $500,000 in operating capital to list, compared to $7.5 million on the main board. They are also required to release one year of audited financial results, compared to the two years required for bigger companies.
  • With AEC integration we are seeing great changes in IPR, Banking, Taxation and Corporate law. Cambodia is making great efforts to facilitate the process for local enterprises. For example, in 2015, Cambodia signed an MOU with Singapore on industrial patents.
+ What new laws are currently in the pipeline?
  • A big update on transfer-pricing guidelines is expected soon. Cambodia currently does not have specific transfer pricing regulations. Currently, regulations seem to be based on those adopted by Malaysia and Indonesia (i.e. generally following OECD guidelines).
  • Experts consulted also expect more double taxation agreements (DTA) between the Kingdom and other countries.
  • A draft for a new construction law is currently being considered The key building law currently in place is the Law of Management and Planning of Urban Construction (1994).
  • The new law will not have retroactive effect, so the new standards of construction will only apply to new buildings.
  • A new Traffic Law was promulgated in January 2015 (replacing its 2007 law predecessor). This new legislation, together with a Sub-Decree on the Provisional Penalties for Traffic Law (July 2015), is a fundamental pillar of the National Road Safety Committee’s broader strategy to increase safety on Cambodia’s roads and to maintain traffic order.
  • While the new Traffic Law establishes stricter road safety rules, notably with respect to the use of helmets and seatbelts by vehicle occupants, it is the abovementioned Sub-Decree that will impose significantly heavier fines for such offences. As per the Sub-Decree, which came into effect on 1 January 2016, the penalty for not wearing a seatbelt in a car increases from 5,000 to 25,000 riel (USD 6.25) and the penalty for not wearing a helmet on a motorbike, as a driver, increases from 3,000 to 15,000 riel (USD 3.25).
  • Other notable provisions of the new Traffic law include the prohibition of driving while using a mobile phone without hands-free accessories, a limitation on the number of passengers on a motorbike to an adult drive, adult passenger and a child and the introduction of criminal responsibility under the Criminal Code for legal persons with respect to individuals who drive without care and attention or in violation of certain obligations prescribed by the new Traffic Law that results in the death of others. Furthermore, the maximum penalty for driving under the influence under the new Traffic Law has quadrupled to USD 1,000, with the minimum prison sentence for the offence increasing from six days to one month. Under the Sub-Decree, where offenders of the new Traffic Law have failed to pay fines within 60 days, the fine imposed shall triple in its amount. If not paid within 90 days, the offender may be prosecuted in court by the competent authorities.
  • Foreigners living in Cambodia are expected to follow local road laws, and increasingly fines and other penalties such as impoundment (and potentially imprisonment) will be incurred for noncompliance.
+ Are there any measures in place with regard to contract enforcement in Cambodia?
  • Contract laws have drastically improved since 2006 when a series of laws were introduced, including the Criminal Code and Civil Code.
  • To prevent problems occurring when a dispute arises, it is advised contracts include an appointed mediator and/or arbitration clauses.
  • Preferred arbitration centres outside local Cambodian jurisdiction are Hong Kong or Singapore.
  • If a contract is breached, the case must be heard in the courts of Cambodia, unless there is an arbitration clause, in which case the courts must refer the case to Arbitration.
  • The National Commercial Arbitration Centre (NCAC) is a commercial dispute solving mechanism established in 2013.
+ What laws exist surrounding intellectual property protection in Cambodia?
  • Protecting intellectual property is an essential requirement for many businesses and in the last decade laws have been developed in this area.
  • These come in four main forms: Trademarks, Copyright, Patents and Geographical Indication (GI).
  • Trademarks offer protection over trade names and devices and prevent others from using the same or confusingly similar marks.
  • Copyright covers any original work of authorship, such as music, books and art and has automatic protection from when it was created.
  • It does not need to be registered but ownership must be proved if an infringement issue arises.
  • Patents can be applied for on original ideas and inventions and GI are product names that relate to a specific region, such as Kampot pepper.
  • In the last few years, there have been a number of important developments with regards to intellectual protection. Most notably, Cambodia joined the Madrid Protocol in March 2015. Under the Madrid system, trademarks registered by businesses in Cambodia can be recognised by all of the treaty’s 98 members, covering 114 countries.
  • Cambodia has become the 151st state to accede to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (“PCT”) – an international treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) that facilitates and simplifies the process of obtaining patent protection internationally.
  • Finally, in February 2017, Cambodia officially joined the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs. The mechanism, administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), will allow Cambodian businesses to request intellectual property protection for their industrial designs with all other member countries through a single application.
  • Cambodia’s ascension to the Hague System makes it a member of all three intellectual property treaties managed by WIPO.
  • In January 2017, kingdom of Cambodia became the first Asian nation to sign an agreement of validation with the Patent Organization of Europe (EPO). The EPO was set up for facilitating the members with a single procedure for granting of patents. There are a few non-member nations with which the EPO has signed agreements of validation, Cambodia being one of them. According to this agreement, once an applicant for a patent with WPO submits a request for validation in each or one of the chosen validation countries, the patent application can be extended to these validation states. In these validation states the European Patent will have the same value and effect as a national patent application and will be subjected to national law.
  • The Cambodian Ministry of Commerce recently launched an online platform that allows trademark applicants to upload the required documents and information for trademark registration online, as well as search the Cambodia Department of Intellectual Property database for potential conflicting marks. Click here for more information.
+ What is being done to tackle corruption, which has traditionally been rife in Cambodia?
  • Cambodia has made great strides in recent years to deal with corruption, primarily through the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Law and the Anti-Corruption Unit.
  • The main focus of the unit is internal to the government and its ministries and has had great success in rooting out the practice.
  • Regardless of the industry, you will still be bound by foreign corruption, bribery and even anti-terrorism legislation. The vast majority of money transferred around the world moves through the US and UK at some point and in doing so becomes subject to such legislation. Citizens of these countries, businesses and organisations registered in them are still subject to the laws of their nation, regardless of their place of residence or business.
  • The British anti-bribery law is particularly strong. British citizens are subject to the law and the penalties that will be incurred by violating it, as is the entirety of the company’s supply-chain.
  • The United States’ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is only concerned with interactions with foreign governments. It does not prohibit the payment of facilitation fees in certain circumstances. A facilitation fee is one paid to change the time period in which something will be processed.
  • Cambodian law, however, prohibits the payment of facilitation fees.
  • In 2013, for example, nine ministries published a list of their official processing fees for various services, which can be found by visiting the relevant ministry website.
+ How does the recent tax overhaul carried out by the Cambodian government affect my business?
  • The Law on Financial Management 2016, promulgated on December 17, 2015, abolished Cambodia’s former two-tier tax system, dropping the more informal Estimated Regime. As such, the country is left with a unified, one-regime system that should widen the taxpayer base.
  • Additionally, the remaining tax regime (known as the Real Regime) has been restructured, with taxpayers now divided into three categories according to income: small, medium and large taxpayers.
  • There is still a long way to go to complete this transition, with only around 40,000 SMEs—out of an estimated 600,000 operating in the country—having registered with the DGT.
  • Experts believe the difficulty lies in educating the people about their obligations under the new tax regime.
  • Following the tax overhaul, the GDT introduced simplified accounting procedures for small taxpayers. They will no longer be expected to follow the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which will significantly simplify recording and documentation tasks for small business owners.
+ How important is it to do your due diligence in Cambodia?
  • It’s strongly recommended that you carry out your due diligence regarding the legitimacy of any party you choose to do business with, any property or official documents involved in your business transactions, and also in guaranteeing the qualifications of the legal representation you receive.
  • It is not uncommon for people to misrepresent themselves in Cambodia.
  • The Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) is the only body able to register lawyers in Cambodia.
  • On their website, www.bakc.org.kh, any user can search the list of lawyers registered on the Cambodian Bar Association’s roll, and likewise any registered legal office.
+ Can foreigners practice law in Cambodia?
  • According to Article Two of the Bar Association’s regulations, only a registered bar member can practice law in Cambodia.
  • This means a foreign lawyer cannot practice law in Cambodia.
  • They can, however, act as a legal advisor while working for a legal firm registered with the Cambodian bar.
  • A freelance foreign legal advisor is not possible – you must be acting under the umbrella of a Cambodian bar registered legal firm.
  • Article 6 states, however, that a foreign lawyer can be admitted to the Cambodian Bar only if that person’s own nation would allow a Cambodian lawyer to join their own national bar. This is according to a principle of reciprocity. The Cambodian Bar consulate can grant a foreigner admission to the bar only on these grounds. While it has yet to occur, the Bar Association is currently processing such a request with the Parisian Bar Association.
  • Law and Accounting Top Tips
  • ALPHA International Corporation call on our panel of experts to share what they have learnt about law and accounting in Cambodia.
+ Make sure you stay above board
  • Keep your books in order and making sure your business stays within the remit of the law.
  • This includes ensuring all elements of the business are registered correctly and with the right ministries, and proper contracts and legal documents are in place.
  • Get the help of an accredited accountant to ensure taxes are being properly paid to avoid hefty fines from the Tax Authority in the future.
+ Be prepared for audits
  • Remain ready for a visit from the taxman.
  • The GDT is undergoing tax audits on many foreign businesses as part of its drive to overhaul the system.
  • There are three types of audit in Cambodia: a desk audit; a limited audit; and a comprehensive audit.
  • To avoid hefty fines, it is advised that books, invoices and receipts are kept in order at all times.
+ Get the experts
  • Law and accounting can be complicated on home turf let alone when you’re in a foreign land.
  • This is why it’s advisable that you leave it all to the experts.
  • As Cambodia develops expediently laws and regulations are constantly changing it therefore becomes essential that you have someone to keep you in the know.

Alternative Dispute Resolution in Cambodia
Here’s how to settle disputes outside the courts in Cambodia.
There are currently two main forms of dispute resolution in Cambodia: the courts and alternative dispute resolution mechanism, which includes mediation and arbitration.
Also, find out about the Arbitration Council; an institution aimed at mediating and reducing labour disputes in Cambodia

 

 

+ Tell me more about solving my disputes through mediation in Cambodia?
  • There are currently two main forms of dispute resolution in Cambodia available for commercial purposes: the courts and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.
  • The courts continue to play a major role in resolving commercial disputes in Cambodia but can often be a costly and lengthy process.
  • Cambodia has three levels of court: Provincial or Municipal court, Appeals Court, and the Supreme Court.
  • Any decision made by the Judge of a lower court can be appealed to a higher court.
+ Tell me more about solving my disputes through arbitration in Cambodia?
  • Commercial arbitration is relatively new to Cambodia but there have been several cases filed to institutional arbitration centres such as the ones in Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • Awards in commercial arbitration are not always published in Cambodia and so arbitration provides some privacy to companies.
  • Since 2013 Cambodia has had a National Commercial Arbitration Center (NCAC) to arbitrate commercial disputes, or aid settlement.
  • The NCAC is composed of independent elected members, who have been selected and trained in arbitration at Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) and Singapore Institute of Arbitrators. The General Assembly has adopted the NCAC’s Rules of Arbitration. Also, internationally recognized foreign arbitrators with relevant experience can be appointed by the NCAC to preside over cases.
  • For increasing its activity and to be trusted, in 2015 the NCAC adopted a Code of Ethics to ensure arbitrators’ neutrality, independence and transparency.
  • One to three arbitrators can hear arbitration cases – one is selected by each party and the third by the two pre-selected arbitrators.
  • There are no restrictions in assigning foreign arbitrators at the NCAC, as long as they are internationally recognised arbitrators with relevant experience.
  • While technically possible for an international business to conduct arbitration according to the current Rules of Arbitration, due to an ongoing lack of funding, the NCAC have only initially been accepting applications for arbitration from local parties.
  • The centre has only received three cases to date, of which the first one was dropped because the claims did not fit the institution’s criteria.
  • The NCAC recently signed a cooperation agreement with the newly opened China-ASEAN Legal Cooperation Centre (CALCC). The main purpose is to facilitate the activities of Chinese investors in Cambodia, and to solve commercial disputes involving Chinese companies in Cambodia. As a result of this agreement, there are five arbitrators from China working alongside the NCAC to facilitate their work with Chinese companies in Cambodia.
  • According to experts, more and more businesses are inserting arbitration clauses into their business contracts. That means if they have a dispute both parties have agreed in advance to bring the case before the NCAC to be resolved.
+ Tell me more about the Arbitration Council in Cambodia?
  • The Arbitration Council in Cambodia is a national body responsible for resolving collective labour disputes.
  • The Arbitration Council was launched in 2003 with the support of the Ministry of Labour, unions and business community. Since its inception, the council has heard more than 2000 cases.
  • Cases come from a variety of industries across Cambodia, including garment and footwear, hospitality, construction and agriculture sectors.
  • Periodic independent studies reveal that the Arbitration Council is a corruption-free institution, highly trusted by both businesses and trade unions for its professional services, which are rare in an emerging market environment like Cambodia.
  • Unlike the National Arbitration Centre, the Arbitration Council is a national tribunal that focuses on mediating and arbitrating ‘collective labour disputes’ involving a group of employees and their employer, rather than commercial disputes.
  • The Council is independent from the government but works alongside relevant ministries.
  • Labour disputes are natural occurrences in the relationship between employers and their employees, triggered by pay and employment benefits, activities of trade unions, discipline and termination matters, labour rights of women, occupational safety and health or other working conditions.
  • If not properly addressed, they are likely to cause disruption to the company’s production, which could take the form of strike action.
  • As an independent and credible third party, the Council bridges the divide between both parties and decides on their dispute if they fail to reach a settlement among themselves.
  • When a labour dispute occurs, both parties normally attempt to resolve it themselves. If they cannot reach an agreement, one of them can submit the dispute to the Ministry of Labour for conciliation, which takes approximately 15 days. If the Ministry cannot conciliate the dispute and consider it a collective one, it will forward the case to the Arbitration Council.
  • The process at the Arbitration Council is efficient and cost-free.
  • Under Article 316 of the Labour Law, the procedure for conciliation and arbitration shall be carried out free of charge. Also pursuant to the articles of the Labour Law, the Council maintains its timeliness in dispute resolution process. After the case is registered, within three days a panel of three arbitrators is set up. The Council has 30 professional arbitrators on three different lists: 10 each on ‘employer’, ‘employee’ and ‘ministry’ lists – and each chosen specifically for their expertise in employment relations and their high integrity.
  • When a case is registered, employer parties select one arbitrator from the ‘employer’ list, while employee parties also choose one from the ‘employee’ list.
  • Both selected arbitrators will then choose a third arbitrator from the neutral roaster to chair the panel.
  • At the beginning of the hearing, arbitrators on the application panel ask parties whether they want the arbitral award to be binding, which means they have to comply and agree to be bound by the arbitral award. Alternatively, they can choose the non-binding option, which is more popular. If one party chooses the non-binding option, the other parties have to follow – you need two parties in agreement to make it binding. In 72% of all cases resolved, parties comply with the decision.
  • The panel then convene a hearing where both parties are given the chance to present their case. Generally, within 15 working days after it is formed, the arbitration panel issues a ruling in the form of a reasoned arbitration award. Parties can agree to extend the 15 days to 20 or 25 days, if there are many issues in that particular case. The average period in which a case is resolved is 18 days.
  • Data from the Garment Manufacturers Association shows in 2011 there were 34 strikes in the garment and footwear sector. In 2012, the figure rose to 121 and then to 147 in 2013.
  • The garment and footwear industry remains the majority user of the Arbitration Council services making up 90% of disputes; however, it is also one of the three most significant pillars of the Cambodian economy, so it is unsurprising that disputes arise. However, that figure was down to 77% for the first 7 months of 2015, as other sectors – non garment and footwear, construction, the hotel industry, gas companies, security, electricity, cement production, transportation and even radio stations – were bringing more cases to the council.
  • A common issue brought in dispute cases can be divided into two categories: a dispute about rights under the labour law contract or a collective bargaining agreement, with one party demanding the other party to respect what it says in those documents.
  • The other type of dispute is called an interest dispute. Common interest disputes that come to the arbitration council includes overtime meal allowance. One party, particularly employees, demand an increase of the attendance bonus and lunch allowance. The most common kinds of disputes and issues are related to wages.
  • Yet, strikes continue to happen, and so do incidents of non-compliance with labour standards by companies.
  • Addressing these problems will need structural adjustments to the way labour law is enforced. This tells us there is more work to be done beyond pure arbitration. There should be more complementary actions taken with regards to prevention of labour disputes as well.
  • To further the goal of labour dispute prevention, the Arbitration Council Foundation is in the process of introducing two additional services for businesses and their employees.
  • A specialised training program in workplace dispute prevention and resolution skills aims to give employers and employees better skills in communication and negotiation, understanding labour disputes, instituting practical workplace grievance procedure, and finding better ways to resolve them.
  • A private mediation service will also be introduced. This focuses on resolving individual labour disputes or disputes parties wish to settle in private.
  • Up to 33% of cases handled by the Council are settled through conciliation.
  • The option of the Council means that the labour movement doesn’t have to go to court, and go through three levels of litigation, which can take a long time. If they come to the council, after 18 days they have to issue the arbitration award that tells the parties what to do. This kind of quick resolution helps parties to go back to work quickly.
  • The arbitration council can also issue strikers with an interim return to work order, requesting the employees to return to work within 48 hours if they want the arbitration to resolve the dispute. This order has a high rate of compliance.
  • Intellectual Property Protections (IPP) in Cambodia
  • IPP laws continue to be strengthened, and training and education offered to enforcers, traders and the public in Cambodia.
  • Firms are advised to take advantage of the laws now available, whether it be to protect a trade name, invention, design or creative work.
+ How do trademarks work in Cambodia?
  • Trademarks are registered with the Department of Intellectual Property Rights, which forms part of the Ministry of Commerce.
  • Registration can either be done directly or if the applicant is not in Cambodia, by appointing a legal representative, who is given power of attorney.
  • Registration takes between three and six months and is valid for 10 years. Currently if you want to protect your trademark you must register it in Cambodia.
  • In the last few years, there have been a number of important developments with regards to intellectual protection. Most notably, Cambodia joined the Madrid Protocol in March 2015. Under the Madrid system, trademarks registered by businesses in Cambodia can be recognised by all of the treaty’s 98 members, covering 114 countries.
  • The Cambodian Ministry of Commerce recently launched an online platform that allows trademark applicants to upload the required documents and information for trademark registration online, as well as search the Cambodia Department of Intellectual Property database for potential conflicting marks. Click here for more information.
+ How about copyright law in Cambodia?
  • It is recommended that work be voluntarily registered with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts in case copyright infringement occurs and judicial action is launched, when it is upon the claimant to prove ownership.
  • Copyright infringement is a criminal offence and offenders face a fine and imprisonment.
+ How are patents covered in Cambodia?
  • Patents are covered by the Law on Patents, Utility Models and Industrial Designs (2003), which seeks to protect technical aspects of inventions.
  • The first Patent was created recently in Cambodia.
  • Any new patents must be registered with the Department of Industrial Property at the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, who check for originality.
  • Cambodia has become the 151st state to accede to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (“PCT”) – an international treaty administered by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) that facilitates and simplifies the process of obtaining patent protection internationally.
  • In January 2017, kingdom of Cambodia became the first Asian nation to sign an agreement of validation with the Patent Organization of Europe (EPO). The EPO was set up for facilitating the members with a single procedure for granting of patents. There are a few non-member nations with which the EPO has signed agreements of validation, Cambodia being one of them. According to this agreement, once an applicant for a patent with WPO submits a request for validation in each or one of the chosen validation countries, the patent application can be extended to these validation states. In these validation states the European Patent will have the same value and effect as a national patent application and will be subjected to national law.
+ How do I register a geographic indication (GI) in Cambodia?
  • The GI Law was implemented on 30 January 2014 in Cambodia, but obtaining a GI status is not an easy process.
  • Producers must first form an association to clearly define the product’s characteristics and lay out a unique set of rules regarding the cultivation of the product within the designated area.
  • An external body must then step in to certify the quality of the resulting product.
  • To register a GI with the Ministry of Commerce, producers must be able to prove their goods stand out from others in the market.
  • The WTO’s GI status authenticates for buyers and consumers that a product is produced in a specific geographical area, and this represents an assurance of its quality.
  • Increasingly, Cambodian consumers are demanding products specifically from certain areas of the country.
  • For example, Battambang oranges can fetch a higher market price, if the registered GI Indicator is on display. If the indicator is not on display, consumers generally assume the product could be misrepresented and are not willing to pay higher prices. In addition, international markets are increasingly asking to see GI indicators for products such as Kampot Pepper. Protection lasts for 10 years and can be renewed.
  • Kampot pepper and Kampong Speu palm sugar are the only Cambodian products to hold the status thus far. Yet they have both seen a boost in demand since gaining GI recognition.
  • Feasibility studies on achieving Geographical Indication status for Thma Koul rice, Kampot durian and Cambodian golden silk have been completed, officials from the Ministry of Commerce said in March 2015 following reports from experts from the UN Conference on Trade and Development in three Cambodian provinces.
Work Permits in Cambodia
Here’s what’s up with the new work permit regulations.
+ What has changed in the last year in regards to work permits?
  • Under the 1997 Labour Law (as amended) and the 1994 Immigration Law, foreigners who wish to work in Cambodia are required to have a valid E visa issued by the Cambodian embassy, consulate or immigration authorities at the port of entry.
  • The most recent laws that formally govern work permits are Prakas No. 195, 20 August 2014, “On Work Permits and Employment Cards for Foreigners”; and Prakas No. 196, 20 August 2014, “On Employment of Foreign Labor”.
  • Employees must have a work permit and an employment card issued by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.
  • The process demands that business owners first must register their company.
  • When registering a business in Cambodia, the Company must make a “Declaration of Opening a Business” in writing and deliver it either to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training for companies with more than 100 employees or to the Department of Labour and Vocational Training for 100 employees and less.
  • Having done this, the company must register its entire staff with the DOL. Don’t forget, this includes both foreign and Khmer staff.
  • If the Company wishes to use foreigners as employees, the Company must request a permit for employment of foreign labour (Quota).
  • This is done by both a Request Form and a Request Table, for use of foreign workforce.
  • If the rate of foreign labour exceeds 10 percent of the total employees, a request letter must be sent which thoroughly and clearly explains the positions in excess of the quota and the specialty and professional skills of each of these foreign workers. A penalty payment normally applies for each worker in excess of the quota.
  • Foreigners are issued a Foreign Work Permit and Foreign Employment card.
  • Although by law the Company is required to make a declaration in writing each time an employee is hired or dismissed, in practice the Company should register new employees as they are hired and provide the workbook and card to departing employees.
  • Labour Inspectors routinely update the company’s labour records for incoming and outgoing employees when the company is audited.
  • Once the company and staff are registered, workbooks will be issued for all staff. After registration, however, the Department of Labour can request staff status updates.
  • As part of this process, the DOL ask for extensive details about employees listed for a company, including foreigner quotas, and expect this information to be updated every time the employees of a business change.
  • This may be a somewhat expensive process, especially if you employ a large number of staff at your company, and if your registration is long overdue.
  • While this was once an unenforced law, Government inspectors have now begun foreign labour inspection at workplaces in order to fully enforce the law, including a comprehensive review of the declaration of personnel and its updates, quota approval for foreign labour usage, employment contracts for foreigners, employment cards and work permits, valid passports, valid visas of the appropriate type, and foreign workers themselves.
  • In August 2017, police officials at the Department of Immigration confirmed that it will become compulsory for all foreigners to obtain an official work permit/employment card to be eligible to apply for a long-term extension to their E visa.
  • Non-compliance can lead to a fine and/or imprisonment. In order to get a business visa now, one also needs to be able to show a valid work permit.
+ How can I get a valid work permit in Cambodia?
  • The regular E-type visa has been split into several sub-types, including the EB visa, the most common type. In August 2017, police officials at the Department of Immigration confirmed that it would become compulsory for all foreigners to obtain an official work permit/employment card to be eligible to apply for a long-term extension to their EB visa.
  • Work permits are issued by the Cambodian Ministry of Labour and are valid for one year.
  • An online system (www.fwcms.mlvt.gov.kh) was established on September 2016 to aid in the registering for work permits.
  • Work permit/employment cards, which are two separate documents but can be applied for at the same time and considered as one application, costs $100 per year. The fee for the visa application process is $33. Applicants must have also undertaken a straightforward health check at the Ministry, which costs $25. You can pay $60 to an agent to get your health certificate without going to the Ministry.
  • The official period for renewal of a work permit/employment card is between January and March each year, although the Ministry of Labour has yet to confirm the exact details surrounding late payments.
  • Companies must submit their Foreign Worker Quota Requests to the Ministry of Labour between September and November each year.
  • The online system has received substantial criticism, especially from foreigners frustrated with having their applications refused. Many of these are either self-employed or freelancing, although it is technically possible to successfully obtain a work permit/employment card for these types of workers.
  • Individuals can get help with the application process from agents such as ‘Call Kim’ (chornkimhoun@yahoo.com or 092 256 388), who charges a fee per application that varies on a case-by-case basis.
  • This information is not set in stone and can vary from situation to situation. Some people have a smooth and painless application, others do not.
+ Will my employer organise my work permit for me?
  • The obligation is on the employer to register employees, assist in arranging work permits and even withhold and pay their own income taxes.
  • The same is true for contracts with freelancers or consultants.
  • Accountancy Firms and Practice in Cambodia
  • There are a range of Accountancy Firms in Cambodia who can handle a variety of accounting services for business.
  • Tax services are a significant component of the services provided by accountancy firms. These include compliance, risk management, structuring and transfer pricing. The firms also provide audit or assurance and advisory services for their clients.
  • For more info on Accountancy Firms and practice in Cambodia, read on…
+ What accountancy firms are in Cambodia?
  • There are several international accountancy firms operating in Cambodia including KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, BDO and Grant Thornton.
  • Smaller firms such as CamATC provide tax compliance and bookkeeping services for their clients.
  • These firms usually belong to international accountancy networks, though membership of these global networks does not provide indemnity in cases of negligence.
+ How has the Cambodian tax system changed since the ASEAN integration?
  • Cambodia’s tax system is undergoing a huge overhaul. The Law on Financial Management 2016, promulgated on December 17, 2015, abolished Cambodia’s former two-tier tax system, dropping the more informal Estimated Regime. As such, the country is left with a unified, one-regime system that should widen the taxpayer base.
  • Additionally, the remaining tax regime (known as the Real Regime) has been restructured, with taxpayers now divided into three categories according to income: small, medium and large taxpayers.
  • There is still a long way to go to complete this transition, with only around 40,000 SMEs—out of an estimated 600,000 operating in the country—having registered with the DGT.
  • The GDT has been working hard to clamp down on tax evaders, make the tax collection system more transparent and improve the services it offers. The move aims to bring the country in line with expected standards for ASEAN members.
  • Prakas No. 1139 on Tax Registration was issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance on October 2014. It stipulated the documents that had to be submitted to, and conditions required to be met, by entities registering with the General Department of Taxation (GDT).
  • The Prakas caused much controversy because it put a significant administrative burden on businesses and was abrogated in 2016 by Prakas No. 496.
  • Among other provisions, under Prakas No. 496, the chairman of the board of directors of the enterprise is not obliged to pay a visit to the GDT in order to receive the Patent Tax Certificate and/or the VAT Registration Certificate and/or the Tax Registration Card—as was the case under Prakas No .1139. Instead, he or she can issue a Power of Attorney to authorize any member of the board of directors to be photographed and have his fingerprints taken on his/her behalf.
  • The 2017 Law on Financial Management introduced changes in the Tax on Salary, including the expansion of the 0% tax band, which now has been extended to $250.
  • Likewise, the same law changed the rebate for dependent children and housewife from 75,000 Khmer Riel (around $19) to 150,000 ($38). The move aims to reduce poverty for employees, factory workers, teachers and government officers.
  • Under a new Prakas published in May 2017, some primary financial services—including deposit, loan and credit activity and initial public offerings (IPO)—were officially exempted from VAT. However, due to concerns within the banking community, the Prakas has been put on hold temporarily. At the time of writing, negotiations are underway.
  • Following a recent revision of the 2017 Financial Law, all companies maintaining proper accounting records are exempt from paying the 1% Minimum Tax (MT exemption). Previously, only Qualified Investment Projects (QIP) were eligible for the exemption. To implement this MT exemption, the Ministry of Economy and Finance issued Prakas No. 638 MEF.Prk on the Criteria of Improper Accounting Records and Procedures for Paying Minimum Tax on 4 July 2017.
  • Cambodia has recently signed Double Tax Agreements (DTA) with Singapore, China and Brunei. These types of bilateral treaties seek to set guidelines for the payment of taxes in situations where a resident person of Country A has business activities in Country B.
  • A new DTA with Thailand is expected very soon.
  • To speed up the process of registering with the tax department, the GDT launched in 2014 a portal that allows companies to carry out part of the process online.
+ Will I be tax audited in Cambodia?
  • By law, if a Cambodian based company fulfils two or more of the following three criteria, they must have their financial statements audited by a registered external auditor.
  • This must be completed within six months after the end of the financial year.
  • The first prerequisite is if revenue of that business is more than $750,000 annually; Secondly, if the value of total assets of the business is more than $500,000; And, thirdly, if the company employs more than 100 members of staff.
+ What are the different classifications of tax audits in Cambodia?
  • There are three types of audit in Cambodia: a desk audit; a limited audit; and a comprehensive audit.
  • Desk audits merely re-examine information already submitted to the General Department of Taxation (GDT) and involve no visit from tax auditors.
  • Limited audits are more in-depth than desk audits, with the option of tax auditors going to the company’s premises to examine additional documents.
  • Comprehensive audits are more thorough than the other two and may uncover potential tax exposures through examination of any area of the business.
  • Desk audits and limited audits are carried out by the local Khan (district) branch of the GDT. If the business is classified as a “Large Taxpayer” both desk audits and limited audits are carried out by the Department of Large Taxpayers (DLT). Large taxpayers include Qualified Investment Projects, branches of foreign enterprises or multi-national companies, and any other enterprise with annual turnover in excess of KHR1,000M (around $250,000). All comprehensive audits are carried out by the Department of Enterprise Audit (DEA).
  • If taxes have been underpaid, a notice of tax reassessment is issued outlining the outstanding sum, plus a penalty of up to 40 percent on the owed sum and interest of two percent per month.
  • Businesses have 30 days to appeal and provide evidence for the tax authority to evaluate.
+ Are accounting software systems available in Cambodia?
  • Accounting software packages are becoming increasingly popular as companies get to grips with the digital world.
  • The first stage is recording transactions on Accounting Software Systems. Several packages are used, traditionally on desktop PCs the current market leader is QuickBooks. Other options are Sage 50 (formerly Peachtree) and local software Conical Hat. Large companies typically use more complex software.
  • Many companies unnecessarily duplicate work, they record transactions in Excel first and then perform data entry again in their accounting system. Not only are they duplicating work but also they are not leveraging the accounting systems’ functionality.
  • There is new cloud accounting software such as an incredible local company Bhanji that produces FREE ONLINE accounting software as well as the global players such as Quickbooks Online or Xero.
  • Once transactions are recorded, management accounting analysis should follow. Using charts & tools to visually display data is paramount in facilitating management to make important business decisions for large and small businesses alike, such as new product launches, pricing and cost cutting.
+ Who regulates accounting in Cambodia?
  • All companies must register with the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce in order to conduct business. The appropriate license or licenses then need to be obtained from the relevant individual ministry.
  • In Cambodia, all companies are required to comply with Cambodia International Financial Reporting Standards (CIFRS) that is fully adopted from International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS). The National Accounting Council, is working in developing and improving the accounting standard in Cambodia by complying with IFRS, but the implementation of this is being done slowly and will be completed gradually due course.
  • As the integration of ASEAN in future, complying with the IFRS would be necessary, as almost all of the countries in the world have decided or are planning to implement IFRS so that international companies can do business easily globally.
  • Foreign investment companies should consider registering with the Council for Development of Cambodia to apply for taxation and economic concessions.
  • The National Bank of Cambodia regulates the banking and finance sector, while the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC) regulates financial service providers operating in the country.
+ Are there professional accounting associations in Cambodia?
  • Practicing accountants must register with Kampuchea Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Auditors (KICPAA), and lawyers with the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Members of KICPAA can use the design-nation Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Currently, only listed companies with SECC are required to comply with the standard, while it is up to the shareholder of the company to decide the requirements for the accounting standard to be used.
  • Cambodia’s National Accounting Council regulates the accounting and auditing standards as well as the financial reporting requirements of local businesses.
  • The association for accountants is the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA).
  • There is no local accounting qualification but accounting is taught by the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA).
Marketing & Media
Marketing & Media

Marketing and media is evolving every day in Cambodia, and competition is heating up as new players enter the scene.

Find out how to tackle the Cambodian advertisers’ market with ALPHA International Corporation’s expert analysis.

If you can’t find your answer here, please kindly contact ALPHA International Corporation Ltd.

+ How has the marketing and advertising sector developed in Cambodia?
  • The marketing and media industries, which are regulated by the Ministry of Information, in particular its Media Department, are areas that continue to grow as more companies realise the important roles they play in helping to boost business.
  • Recently, Cambodia has seen a shift away from traditional forms of marketing and advertising. In 2016 Internet/Facebook became the most important channel through which Cambodians access information (30%) – surpassing TV (29%) and almost doubling radio (15%). It is expected to continue gaining market share yearly.
  • Given the limited exposure to advertising for the majority of the past two decades, Khmer audiences are still relatively unsophisticated compared to neighbouring countries, which is reflected in the overall standard of advertising material.
  • The introduction of several international and homegrown agencies has helped to raise standards, as has the development of university and college courses.
  • Marketing and media is entering a phase of massive innovation compared to past years.
  • Branding has taken centre stage.
  • There is a rising demand for marketing services, with clients also demanding more sophistication in the campaigns. Clients are increasingly beginning to think of their marketing in more strategic terms, adopting a longer-term view of how they want to develop their brand image and how they perceive themselves in the market.
  • However, Cambodia – and Southeast Asia as a whole – are still lagging behind the world when it comes to digital marketing.
+ Have there been any recent changes in the marketing industry?
  • For alcohol brand advertisers, a new law has been enforced banning alcohol TV advertising during primetime viewing of 6pm to 9pm.
  • Tobacco advertising was also recently banned, bringing Cambodia in line internationally.
  • Alcohol and cigarette branding at events still face no regulation in Cambodia although there are discussions of measures being introduced in the future.
  • A rise in new advertisers entering the market, an increase in networking events and billboards becoming more popular are other notable changes.
  • Branding is rising exponentially. More independent agencies are opening. The traditional larger agencies of Cambodia have shifted their focus to media, or concentrating on fewer clients. On the client side, companies realize that they need to stand out in an increasingly competitive market and are putting a larger focus on their marketing departments and communications strategies.
  • Facebook is an extremely powerful tool in Cambodia. One of the most important shifts in the industry, as reported by an Open Institute study, is Facebook’s rise as “the most important source of information about Cambodia”, displacing TV for the first time. The study found that the most important source of news about Cambodia was Facebook/Internet (30%), followed by TV (29%), word of mouth (23%) and radio (15%).
+ What forms of media are available in Cambodia?
  • TV advertising still plays a huge role in Cambodia.
  • In 2015, TV was still the most dominant source for news in the country, followed by Facebook/Internet and radio, according to the Open Institute.
  • However, young people are watching less TV and relying more on the Internet and social media for news and entertainment.
  • One of the most important shifts in the industry, as reported by an Open Institute study, is Facebook’s rise as “the most important source of information about Cambodia”, displacing TV for the first time. The study found that the most important source of news about Cambodia was Facebook/Internet (30%), followed by TV (29%), word of mouth (23%) and radio (15%).
  • Compared with the rest of the region, TV advert slots are relatively cheap.
  • Print advertising comes in the form of a range of newspapers and magazines, and radio is another popular option.
  • Print advertising will decrease as internet use continues to rise, with the internet eventually becoming the number one form of advertising in the future.
  • Facebook is a huge force in Cambodia.
  • Billboards and Tuk Tuk advertising remain popular.
  • Promotions and giveaways are often used to introduce Khmer to international products that have never before been seen in the Kingdom.
+ What help is available to me in terms of marketing and advertising?
  • As the industry continues to develop, there are more and more options available to help spread your company’s message.
  • These include video and multimedia production, translation, design, media buying and graphic design.
  • The market has recently seen a rise in branding agencies as Cambodia continues to embrace brands.
  • Many companies offer Facebook and social media marketing packages – controlling Facebook feeds to maximise exposure of your business. Marketing events are popular.
+ How has social media developed in Cambodia?
  • According to geeksincambodia.com, the total number of active Internet users in the Kingdom has risen by 2.1 million in 2017. Active social media users and active social mobile users have both seen a 1.5 million increase each, to 4.9 million and 4.4 million respectively.
  • Facebook ranks as the number one website in Cambodia with a total of 4.8 million users recorded in 2017, amounting to a whopping 1.4 million growth since 2016, according to geeksincambodia.com. Experts consulted agree that Facebook’s influence in the Kingdom is “outsized” compare to other countries.
  • Some 48% of Cambodians say they use or have used Facebook (an increase of 39% from 2015), according to a study by the Open Institute.
  • 97% of Facebook account holders access the site through their phone (85% claim to do it exclusively via this medium). Cambodia has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world.
  • According to IMS Cambodia, 82% of users live in Phnom Penh.
  • 78% of users are 30 years old or younger.
  • 2,769,000 connect with Android devices, while 1,564,000 do so with iOS devices.
  • There are 220,000 expats who use Facebook in Cambodia.
  • Cambodia has one of the youngest populations in the world and this is reflected in the demographic makeup of Facebook’s user base with 76% aged between 18 and 34.
  • In terms of gender breakdown, a recent Open Institute study found that 55% of Khmer Facebook users are male and 41% are female, with the gender gap narrowing every year.
  • Businesses, celebrities and media sources comprise the top five largest brand pages in the country with an average of nearly 1,800,000 fans, according to socialbakers.com. In comparison the top five Twitter pages in Cambodia average 119,496 followers. The most popular YouTube page in Cambodia has 653,523 subscribers.
  • The top one hundred brand pages in the country all have a minimum of 100,000+ fans.
  • This makes the platform a popular one when it comes to promoting bars, clubs, restaurants and boutique stores targeting this audience.
  • Government and the non-governmental organisations are increasingly interested in digital marketing.
  • Boosting a post on Facebook can be very effective if done properly. Companies need to carefully adjust parameters to maximise the efficiency of this tool. You need to know how to target the right Facebook audience and optimize your ad bidding.
  • 2017, has also seen the rise of Instagram as another viable platform for the Cambodian audience with 111,000 daily active users.
  • LinkedIn and YouTube are other popular tools in Cambodia.
  • Twitter remains fairly unused but this looks set to change in the future. It is, however, popular with journalists.
  • Line is the leader in Cambodia in terms of apps but most companies lack the consumer databases required to use them effectively.
  • User review sites are extremely persuasive in the realm of tourism – and must be managed if your tourism venture expects to survive in the long-term.
+ What sort of human resources are available in marketing and media in Cambodia?
  • As in most areas of business, people are the key to success.
  • The right team for the job will help ensure that your products or services reach their intended audience in the best way possible and with a message that is culturally appropriate.
  • Even if you have a clear idea of the message you want to put out, it’s advisable to hire someone who can help you navigate the legal requirements for advertisements and the cultural implications of certain messages.
  • While there are some design schools producing a steady stream of graduates in Cambodia, their training typically focuses only in the use of computer programmes such as Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop.
  • They may not enter the job market with their own ideas and innovation. Furthermore, they may need specialist technical training on top of their prior education.
  • However, this is predicted to quickly change as the value of these kinds of services and expertise are increasingly realised by local businesses and international players continue to enter the market.
  • New degrees are being formulated to meet this demand, and standards of education are rising.
  • When considering job candidates, this requires not just a face-to-face interview – but also involves exercises that test aspects of what would be their day-to-day job.
  • Don’t expect them to be able to do it perfectly but try to gauge their deficiencies and strengths before hiring.
  • An intern program may be a useful way to find diamonds in the rough.
+ What does the future hold for marketing and media in Cambodia?
  • With the industry still young, the media and marketing sectors are expected to grow rapidly into the future as the audience becomes more developed in these areas.
  • These days marketing and media in Cambodia involves more than just design and advertising agencies working with media outlets like newspapers, magazines, television and billboards.
  • Specialised communications, translation, video and multimedia production are increasingly available marketing services in Cambodia, and quality is rising fast too.
  • Companies range considerably in size and in the breadth of services offered.
  • Some will specialise in a particular niche such as print design or event management, whereas others are full service agencies that will do everything from branding to graphic design, media buying and more.
  • Others are engaged in broad market research and analysis, conducting surveys on consumer activity and, in some cases, building on their analysis with the provision of strategic advice and consulting services.
  • The market has recently seen a rise in branding agencies as Cambodia continues to embrace new brands.
  • The nation has also seen huge growth in new brands entering the country.
  • Before it was really only international companies bringing brands in – but now there’s a shift towards local companies bringing these brands in, and they all need innovative new ideas.
  • Marketing and Media In Cambodia Top Tips
  • Our industry insiders share how to make the most out of advertising and marketing.
+ Ensure cultural sensitivity
  • Even if you are not Cambodian, you are in Cambodia so you need to respect local traditions and customs whenever your business is in the public eye.
  • Cultural norms like strong family values, respect and courteous manners are very big here, so understanding these nuances and realise that not violating them is very important.
  • Nationalism is a strong force in Cambodia, and Asia generally. When Khmers see a brand that’s made and produced in Cambodia, and the brand creates a sense of pride about being Cambodian, consumers really respond strongly.
  • Regardless of your approach, try to conduct message evaluation and concept testing before releasing any new marketing initiatives.
  • Businesses spend tons of money developing a specific campaign strategy and so they should ensure that the final message doesn’t offend anybody.
  • Another thing is the need for research data to support market localisation strategies.
  • A lot of international clients who enter the market are soon recognising that you can’t just use the same strategy that you’ve used in your respective country and apply it to Cambodia, you have to localise your approach.
  • It can be a good idea to fuse a bit of Cambodian culture into an event. It needs to still have a local flavour. Ask clients for their list of guest of honours. If there are any ministers being invited, check what protocol you need to follow when they arrive.
+ Emotion sells
  • People are drawn to emotional advertising in Cambodia.
  • Unlike in more developed countries, where the audience tends to be cynical about emotional connotations attached to a product, in Cambodia this is not the case.
  • They trust TV here – more than any other medium – meaning they are happy to take emotional TV ads at face value.
  • This helps hugely with brand awareness strategies as in some ways Cambodians are naive.
+ Spread the word
  • Word of mouth works well in Cambodia if you offer good quality work.
  • Word of mouth is essentially networking.
  • Every Cambodian network has a thought leader: That could be anyone, it could even be the local mechanic. In the West it might be a particular blogger who follows trends, whereas here it’s your uncle or your cousin or a local businessman. And if these thought leaders recommend your company, you are golden in that network.
  • So word of mouth within local networks remains highly important here.
  • If your business has been here for a while, and you provide a quality good or service, your clients will advertise on your behalf through word of mouth whenever they run in to a prospective client.
+ Unexpected pitfalls
  • Copycats may well be your major challenge. And they are everywhere.
  • It is not uncommon for someone to directly copy your work and ideas to use for their own brands.
  • In Cambodia there is little recourse for this under current intellectual property laws.
  • Khmer communication is quite direct and factual, so the use of metaphorical messages or idioms is often lost. It’s important to be aware of what can translate from English into Khmer when writing copy.
  • Another common problem is promotional pitfalls.
  • With promotions and give-aways being a popular tool in the Kingdom, “overdoing” it can at times be a problem.
  • Giving away too much of a brand cheapens it and can give it an inferior image. It may be hard to step back up to the premier league after too many cheapening promotions.
  • Cambodia is lacking in the variety of talent available for events. A solution is to get acts from neighbouring countries.
Media Channels in Cambodia
Here’s a list of all your potential advertising mediums in Cambodia and how to get the most out of them.
+ Television
  • Television, led by two main CBS-owned networks, is still a dominant force in advertising in Cambodia, with 68% TV penetration and 2.9 million TV households according to contentasia.tv
  • One of the most important shifts in the industry, as reported by an Open Institute study, is Facebook’s rise as “the most important source of information about Cambodia”, displacing TV for the first time. The study found that the most important source of news about Cambodia was Facebook/Internet (30%), followed by TV (29%), word of mouth (23%) and radio (15%). In 2015, TV was still the most predominant source, followed by Facebook/Internet and radio.
  • TV advertisements are geared towards Cambodians, as there are no locally produced stations in English or other foreign languages.
  • TV advertisements are an effective means to reach a large national audience, though the advertising rates reflect the breadth of coverage.
  • Compared with the rest of the region, however, TV advert slots are relatively cheap in Cambodia.
  • TV daily peak times run from around 11am-1pm and 6pm-9pm. Peak time rates average at $356 per ad and Non Peak rates average at $32 per ad – according to Riverorchid Media.
  • Advertising on TV has set prices but there are multiple options available including product placement, sponsorship of shows and floating ads.
  • Content broadcast on TV, including advertising, has to pass a censor before being aired.
  • Locals seem to be more in tune with TV viewing than reading ads in magazines or newspapers.
  • Primetime TV varies, with lunchtime spots being a hit as well as early evening.
  • TV commercials can either be made independently or with the help of the TV station’s experts who will be able to advise on details.
+ Radio
  • There are over 200 radio stations in Cambodia.
  • There is currently at least two local English radio station, Love FM and Radio One FM 103.7, which appeal mostly to young, urban Cambodians.
  • BBC World Service programs in English are available in Cambodia through the FM station, BBC 100 FM.
  • Advertising on radio is relatively inexpensive, and the stations can often help with producing jingles and other content. Before choosing to advertise, find out the station’s range and audience.
  • Be advised, you may need a Khmer speaker to help you communicate with the relevant people.
  • According to Riverorchid Media, Radio daily peak-time runs from around 6.30am-8:00am.
  • Peak-time rates average $12 per ad, and non-peak rates average $3 per ad.
+ Print media
  • There are numerous printed publications in Cambodia including daily newspapers, and weekly, monthly and quarterly magazines.
  • These are primarily in Khmer but also in English, French and Chinese, most of which include paid advertising space.
  • Newspaper advertising is relatively expensive, with rack rates of up to $1,000 for a page for one day. Some newspapers also offer less expensive classified advertising that is a popular choice for restaurants, bars and smaller businesses promoting events.
  • Glossy Khmer magazines such as Angkor Thom and Dara, which are the third most popular form of advertising, carry adverts mainly from healthcare and cosmetic companies, a reflection of their predominantly female audience, though there are a few magazines catering to specific market sectors such as fashion, motoring and mobile phones.
  • Be wary of stated circulation figures as there is no audit bureau and numbers are often inflated, although Cambodian readers will often rent or just borrow newspapers and magazines rather than buying them.
  • When buying advertising space you can generally negotiate on the price especially from the Khmer media whose “standard” rates are often inflated to allow them to offer you a “special” discount.
  • Printing technology in Cambodia is somewhat outdated compared to the western world, and many print shops still use film to make printing plates rather than modern digital methods.
  • The country is however embracing new technologies, including C2P (computer-to-plate) technology, leading to quicker turnaround and lower prices.
  • Offset printing is still relatively expensive compared to Thailand or Vietnam, due mainly to the high cost of electricity, but any savings from printing overseas will be offset by the cost of transportation.
  • Prices have come down a little in the past couple of years due to stiff competition in the market, and it pays to shop around to get the best combination of cost, quality, service and credit terms.
  • For print jobs where colour balance is important, ask to see a colour proof as each new sheet is printed, so adjustments can be made at the earliest stage.
  • Billboards are still popular: According to Riverorchid Media, in Phnom Penh it costs between $300/m2 to $750/m2 for Billboard advertising space. According to experts, they are a very cost-effective advertising medium.
  • Tuk Tuk Advertising is also still popular: Tuk tuk adverts will cost $20 to print, and $7-10 per month display fees.
+ Internet
  • Cambodia’s web presence is increasing and more businesses and individuals are moving online.
  • The Kingdom has over 7,100,000 active internet users, according to geeksincambodia.com. The total number of active users in Cambodia has risen by 2.1 million since 2016. The kingdom has 31 internet service providers serving those subscribers, and with the number of blogs growing daily, so is the use of the internet as a means of marketing and advertising.
  • According to a recent study by the Open Institute, 37% of Cambodians claimed to use the internet or to have used it at some point (48% urban versus 31% rural). Many more men than women use the Internet (48% versus 26%).
  • 90% of university students and graduates access the Internet from their own phones.
+ Social media
  • Coupled with the rise in the rate of internet use across the Kingdom, comes a rise in social media.
  • Facebook is the most popular medium and is an ever-present reality for most young Cambodians since launching in the country in 2009.
  • 2017, has also seen the rise of Instagram as another viable platform for the Cambodian audience with 111,000 daily active users.
  • LinkedIn and YouTube are other popular tools in Cambodia. Twitter remains fairly unused, but is popular among media professionals.
  • You could almost say that Facebook is a sales tool in and of itself in Cambodia. Through Facebook you can reach a greater audience in Cambodia than through almost any other current digital media channel.
  • In recent times, stand alone companies have started offering Facebook marketing packages in Cambodia. These services help companies reach their preferred audience through content creation, increasing “likes”, analytics analysis, and management of everything else related to the business’s Facebook account.
  • In Cambodia, people often use Facebook to search for things, as opposed to starting with a Google search. This means that Facebook is a place for first impressions, and a place where, if a business has no presence, it will never be seen by potential clients.
  • Yet, despite its popular image as a free advertising medium, Facebook marketing can be costly.
  • To have effective Facebook marketing you have to spend money. In fact, you can almost equal it to spending on print media or on television if you are doing it right, suggest some experts. You may have to go that high on spending if you really want to have the right effect.
  • Boosting a post on Facebook can be very effective if done properly. Companies need to carefully adjust parameters to maximise the efficiency of this tool. You need to know how to target the right Facebook audience and optimize your ad bidding.
  • Any Facebook strategy must be targeted given your potential consumer pool. You need to post in and engage with the right groups if you intend to find the people who will most likely buy your product.
  • In addition, Facebook can offer unclear feedback.
  • Cambodian Facebook usage differs to observed Western patterns of usage, as they tend to hit the “like” button a lot more liberally.
  • The typical Cambodian Facebook user may “like” your posts even though they may have very little real affinity with your product, and have no intention of actually buying that product.
  • Market Research and Strategies
  • Here the nuts and bolts of marketing in Cambodia, along with a few words of wisdom from our industry players as to what might work, and what may not…
+ How should I research the Cambodian marketplace before I start advertising?
  • Targeting the right demographic for your products, services or business is essential.
  • Even with a growing number of research companies, the industry is still in an early phase of development.
  • Local companies often see research as a cost, not as an investment as is often the case in more developed markets.
  • A lack of publicly available information is also a problem for the industry, although the government, as well as the private sector are working to improve the situation.
  • There are a growing number of NGOs here who are also seeing the value of market research in providing their services, however these studies are more focused on social policy.
  • While Phnom Penh is the headquarters of a lot of businesses in Cambodia, don’t forget that Phnom Penh is a bubble, so local findings cannot necessarily be extrapolated to the national level.
  • Don’t forget, the vast majority of Cambodia is rural. This means the attitudes and behaviours of people in Phnom Penh do not represent the rest of the country – so it’s crucial to conduct research in a number of provinces to ensure a valid representation.
+ Are there many marketing agencies in Cambodia?
  • Marketing and media involves more than just design and advertising agencies working with media outlets like newspapers, magazines, television and billboards.
  • Branding, specialised communications, video and multimedia production, translation and more are available in Cambodia.
  • Companies range considerably in size and in the breadth of services offered.
  • Some will specialise in a particular niche such as print design or whereas others, such as Riverorchid and Phibious, are full service agencies that will do everything from branding to graphic design, media buying and more.
  • Smaller firms may not offer as many services or, like Quantum Publicity or Livewire Entertainment, specialise in one aspect of marketing such as public relations or event management.
  • Others are engaged more in market research and analysis, conducting surveys on consumer activity and in some cases building on their analysis with the provision of strategic advice and consulting services, such as Publicity Co and TNS Global.
+ What are some recommended digital strategies?
  • We all know that there’s a lot more to social media than just setting up a Facebook page.
  • Awareness and interaction are key to formulating a solid digital strategy that will deliver success.
  • Carving out your target market should be the first step whenever devising a digital strategy.
  • This should be followed up by looking at the interests, age groups and stereotypes of these people.
  • Using online advertising to drive people to a well thought-out website is key.
  • An equally essential component for any brand’s marketing checklist should be tailor-making a website for the Cambodian market.
  • The way Cambodians interact with your website is very different to how those in the US will.
  • Cambodia is the first market in the world with more mobile telephone lines than fixed landlines, and, as such, the concept of mobile first and desktop following becomes an increasingly important consideration.
+ How about outdoor advertising?
  • Advertising billboards are seen throughout the country, though advertising space is expensive and looks set to rise further, thanks to a shake-up to regulations.
  • According to Riverorchid Media, in Phnom Penh it costs between $300 per square-metre to $750 per square-metre for billboard advertising space.
  • The locations begin with single viewing locations, located on simple streets with only one opportunity for viewing, right up to locations with 2 or 3 opportunities for potential viewership. These spots are located on the busiest junctions and traffic lights in downtown, with standard ad sizes being 4x8m, 4x10m, 4x12m, 4x16m and 5x16m.
  • Metered taxis in Phnom Penh carry advertising on their doors and roofs and tuk tuks frequently have advertising banners affixed to their backs, costing around $7-10 per month. Tuk tuk advert will cost $20 to print.
  • Local printers can produce a range of signs, including paper of varying size, billboard and even plastic or tarpaulin.
  • Prices vary but signage is relatively inexpensive – keep in mind that retail businesses are often charged a “sign tax” based on the size and location.
  • Premium brands maybe should avoid tuk tuk advertising as they don’t reflect their premium position.
+ Do below-the-line advertising campaigns work well in Cambodia?
  • Below the line advertising techniques, as opposed to above the line ones that target mass audiences using avenues such as TV commercials and printed advertisements in newspapers, are more niche focused.
  • They allow the marketer to tailor their message in a more direct and personal way.
  • Below the line works well for consumer products at point of sale. For example, advertising at the bar when selling imported drinks at tourist guesthouses and bars.
  • Due to the thriving street culture of Cambodia, guerrilla-style marketing has a far-reaching impact on consumers, not least thanks to the prominence of word of mouth as a means of communication.
  • Below the line techniques are an excellent way to engage an audience and give them a memorable experience of a brand or message.
  • Experiential marketing, that’s the direct engagement with the customer, is hugely effective.
  • Attempts to think outside the box are slowly creeping in with experimental marketing campaigns starting to take off.
Medical & Pharmaceutical
Medical & Pharmaceutical

To make sure you stay healthy in Cambodia, ALPHA International Corporation has thrown together all the essentials about medical, dental, pharmaceutical and veterinarian services available in Cambodia. We’ve even got some general advice for staying fighting fit in the Kingdom.

“Healthcare” and “Cambodia” may have once been considered unlikely bedfellows but nowadays, while not yet world class, healthcare in the Kingdom is definitely on the up. No longer do you need to get an emergency flight to Bangkok or Singapore for a routine procedure, Cambodia boasts an array of perfectly capable hospitals and clinics with competent, educated staff. The Royal Phnom Penh Hospital, opened on Russian Boulevard in 2014, was a welcome addition to the country’s medical landscape and the latest in a succession of Western-standard healthcare facilities to open in the country.

If you can’t find your answer here, please kindly contact ALPHA International Corporation Ltd.

+ What is the state of health care in Cambodia?
  • The last couple of years have seen important developments in Cambodia’s medical world, with the sector moving forward faster than ever.
  • A change in the country’s expat profile has helped drive change in the sector in this direction. More of the country’s expat population are young, independent professionals who are very health conscious and demand higher standards of medical services.
  • Sunrise-Japan Hospital finally opened in January 2017, employing physicians and healthcare providers from Japan, as well as local professionals trained in Japan. In addition to common sickness and injuries, emergency response and healthcare management are also covered by the new facility. The hospital is located in the Chrouy Changvar peninsula.
  • Khema opened a new clinic in September last year. Centrally located in BKK1, their facilities are apt for the practice of 36 medical specialties, including emergency services, cardiology, internal medicine, and dermato-oncology. Their equipment and facilities include ICUs, an advanced medical laboratory, an ambulance and a pharmacy open 24/7.
  • Among the specializations experiencing the most robust growth, eyecare stands out. Dr. Agrawal Eye Hospital jointly with Dr. Kong Piseth Eye Hospital is a clear example of advancements in this field.
  • Additionally, the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association (AHHA), in tandem with local organisation Khmer Sight, is building a new specialized hospital in Phnom Penh for eye-related conditions.
  • There are also several other private medical clinics run by foreigners in Phnom Penh, many of which employ foreign staff or local physicians who have studied abroad.
  • However, no institution is currently able to deliver the full-range of inpatient and outpatient medical services in existence.
  • Even when the services provided by all local hospitals and clinics are considered collectively, some medical specializations are still unavailable and patients may need to be evacuated out of Cambodia to other centres of medical specialty for particular treatment.
  • The Cambodian Ministry of Health (MoH) is in charge of the healthcare industry, the pharmaceutical industry and public health and is responsible for regulating hospitals, clinics and medical professionals, as well as NGOs involved in healthcare.
  • There are some positive developments recently in terms of improving private practice regulations, and strengthening the registration and licensing processes for health professionals to practice either in public or private settings. The Health Professional Councils have been mandated to support and monitor the process of tool/protocol development and implementation. However, there are still a lot of challenges for the Councils to mobilize resources to realize their dreams for high health care quality.
  • There has been huge growth in the cosmetics and aesthetic medicine markets in the capital.
  • As Cambodia’s middle class develops, there has been a rise in chronic diseases, including obesity and diabetes.
  • Cambodians are increasingly recognizing the importance of paying proper attention and treating chronic illnesses, such as high-blood pressure, diabetes and arrhythmias. Pharmaceuticals to treat these conditions are now more widely available than ever before.
  • While upper class Cambodians demand more expensive imported medicines, local manufacturers can produce low-cost generics, or can import them from countries like India.
+ What health insurance should I get while I live in Cambodia?
  • Your health insurance should cover both inpatient and outpatient care. If you only get outpatient coverage, you could end up paying a lot of money if your condition is not serious enough to warrant hospitalization.
  • Cambodia has facilities where doctors can handle a variety of issues.
  • However, you may require evacuation to a regional hospital facility in neighbouring countries for specialist treatment.
  • Given the high cost of medical evacuation, which can easily exceed $15,000, having insurance that includes “medevac” coverage is strongly advised for expatriates.
  • If you are insured for medevac, you may be repatriated to your home country, or a suitable regional alternative, depending on the specific terms of your insurance and the type and duration treatment you require.
  • Several regional specific plans are available – and prices much lower than worldwide coverage policies due to the relative costs of health care and the range of healthcare products available.
  • Beware, travel insurance is not as comprehensive as health insurance.
  • Singapore is the number one regional alternative in terms of skill and technology but it is also the most expensive. Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh offer good standards of care at reasonable prices.
  • Many westerners and interAsian residents travel to South East Asia for medical tourism because of the healthcare standards to cost ratio, particularly when it comes to dental care.
  • Phnom Penh hosts a number of representative offices of regional hospitals, such as Bumrungrad Hospital and Bangkok Hospital in Bangkok, the Franco-Vietnamese (FV) Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as Sime Darby and Mahkota Medical Center in Malaysia.
  • These sister hospitals can arrange appointments as well as transport, including Medevac, from Cambodia.
+ Do I need to go abroad to use medical facilities?
  • Facilities in Phnom Penh can manage infectious diseases, tropical and metabolic diseases, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes, medical emergencies and accidents requiring specialist treatment. Critical care is still at a premium. Cardiac care with intervention is reliable.
  • However, you may require evacuation to a regional hospital facility in neighbouring countries.
  • Some of the specialties that are unavailable in the country include paediatric neonatology, oncology, management of multiple trauma and orthopaedic and vascular surgery.
  • Ambulance services provided by the private hospitals are equipped to internationally safe standards and are subject to strict regulation. They usually provide medical escort. Legislation regarding the use of municipal ambulances remains restrictive in terms of where patients can be fetched and delivered.
  • Given the high cost of medical evacuation, which can easily exceed $10,000, having insurance that includes “medevac” coverage is strongly advised.
  • If you are insured for medevac, you may be repatriated to your home country, or a suitable regional alternative, depending on the specific terms of your insurance and the type and duration treatment you require.
  • Singapore is the number one regional alternative in terms of skill and technology but it is also the most expensive. Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh offer good standards of care at reasonable prices.
  • Phnom Penh hosts a number of representative offices of regional hospitals, such as Bumrungrad Hospital and Bangkok Hospital in Bangkok, the Franco-Vietnamese (FV) Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, as well as Sime Darby and Mahkota Medical Center in Malaysia.
  • They can arrange appointments as well as transport, including Medevac, from Cambodia.
+ How can I stay healthy in Cambodia?
  • There is no shortage of gyms in Phnom Penh that cater to international standards.
  • Local gyms cost as little at 50 cents a day.
  • Classes, such as pilates, yoga, karate and keep-fit also run regularly in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
  • Signing up for team sports is easy, including football, rugby, badminton, volleyball, running (the Hash House Harriers) and basketball, to name just a few.
  • The Phnom Penh Parent’s Network on Yahoo Groups is the perfect place to find these sporting clubs.
  • Many of the luxury hotels allow tennis court renting.
  • Many hotels also have swimming pools that can be used for a small fee.
  • See Cambodia Pocketguide: Out and About for more information of where these pools are and how much they cost.
  • Team sports facilities are still limited and prices can be a bit steep. The lack of illuminated pitches also makes playing after dark a tad difficult. Nevertheless, these options are growing by the day.
  • Parks, tracks, green and open spaces are not common in Cambodia.
  • However, there are areas where, early in the morning or evening, Cambodians gather to walk or partake in communal aerobics classes.
  • You are more than welcome to join these aerobics classes, for a small fee.
+ What hospitals are available in Cambodia and what standard of care do these hospitals offer?
  • Phnom Penh now has several hospitals where foreigners can receive medical treatment.
  • These include Calmette Hospital, the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, Royal Rattanak Hospital, Sen Sok IU Hospital, and the Royal Phnom Penh Hospital, which is part of the Bangkok Hospital Group.
  • Sunrise-Japan hospital finally opened in January 2017, employing physicians and healthcare providers from Japan, as well as local professionals trained in Japan. In addition to common sickness and injuries, emergency response and healthcare management are also covered by the new facility. The hospital is located in the Chrouy Changvar peninsula.
  • Khema opened a new clinic in September last year. Centrally located in BKK1, their facilities are apt for the practice of 36 medical specialties, including emergency services, cardiology, internal medicine, and dermato-oncology. Their equipment and facilities include ICUs, an advanced medical laboratory, an ambulance and a pharmacy open 24/7.
  • Among the specializations experiencing the most robust growth, eyecare stands out. Dr. Agrawal Eye Hospital jointly with Dr. Kong Piseth Eye Hospital is a clear example of advancements in this field.
  • Additionally, the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association (AHHA), in tandem with local organisation Khmer Sight, is building a new hospital in Phnom Penh for eye-related conditions.
  • Siem Reap is home to the Royal Angkor International Hospital. However, this city is far behind Phnom Penh when it comes to standards of medical service, with patients often travelling down to the capital for medical care even for relatively simple conditions.
  • Always check the qualifications of your chosen doctor.
  • Several children’s hospitals also operate in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap though their focus is primarily on Cambodian patients.
  • In the case of an emergency, it’s recommended to go to one of the larger hospitals or an internationally recognised clinic.
  • Phnom Penh hosts a number of representative offices of regional hospitals, such as Bumrungrad Hospital and Bangkok Hospital, in Bangkok, Thailand, and the Franco-Vietnamese (FV) Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. They can arrange appointments as well as transport from Cambodia.
  • Consultations are relatively inexpensive but transport to hospital, especially in Ambulance services, costs a lot.
  • Dengue fever, malaria and influenza share many of the same signs, so if you come down with a fever it’s worth getting a blood test to determine exactly what condition you have.
+ What pharmaceuticals are available at Cambodian pharmacies?
  • The use of pharmaceuticals in Cambodia is growing as more of the country change from traditional to western medicines.
  • And the pharmaceuticals industry looks set to strengthen with global brands such as Germany’s Bayer, France’s Sanofi and Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline entering the market.
  • Pharmaceuticals are easily accessible over the counter in Cambodia. Yet the quality of pharmacies varies greatly and the sale of fake pharmaceuticals continues to be a problem.
  • It can be difficult to tell fake medicines from real ones, however, signs include reduced price, difference in colours among boxes of the same medication, and a lack of manufacturer or expiry dates in the box.
  • The most frequently counterfeited drugs tend to be painkillers, Viagra, Valium and sleeping pills.
  • Expensive but necessary medications such as anti-diabetic, anti-malarial and antibiotic drugs are also commonly counterfeited and sold in Cambodian pharmacies, particularly in rural areas.
  • Many locally operated pharmacies in Cambodia also lack trained staff meaning customers run the risk of being prescribed the wrong medicine, and given unqualified advice.
  • Also keep in mind that many pharmacies would try to sell the customer medicines that he or she doesn’t really need according to the prognosis. For some of these businesses, selling as much as possible is what counts.
  • Obtaining a license to open a pharmacy requires that the applicant be a registered pharmacist in Cambodia.
  • It’s not required that the pharmacist be on the premises during the hours of pharmacy operation.
  • Therefore, it has become common practice for pharmacists to hire out their name and license number to other entrepreneurs wishing to open a pharmacy.
  • Don’t always buy the cheapest products, as they may well be counterfeit.
  • And always check the expiry dates, label, and storage conditions on purchase.
  • To be safe always use a well-kept pharmacy with a trained pharmacist who provides medication with proper instructions.
  • Some reliable certified pharmacies such as Pharmalink, U-Care, Western Pharmacy, Guardian and Pharmacie de la Gare.
+ Are there medical clinics in Cambodia?
  • Phnom Penh now has several hospitals where foreigners can receive high-quality medical treatment.
  • There are also many clinics in Cambodia, offering everything from basic medical services to physiotherapy, massage and acupuncture, plastic surgery and even traditional Chinese medicine.
  • Laboratory services, X Ray and IRM are available in Cambodia.
  • New clinics have recently opened featuring ICUs, advanced medical laboratories and catherizaton laboratories.
  • Phnom Penh also now has reliable options for westerners seeking dermatology, physiotherapy, psychiatric care for acute conditions, and radiology treatments.
  • Chiropractics is a relatively new specialist healthcare option for Cambodia.
  • In the case of an emergency, it’s recommended to go to one of the larger hospitals or an internationally recognised clinic.
  • Ultrasound is widely available and Phnom Penh also has CT and MRI equipment. The availability of quality medical reporting must be taken into account when choosing which facility to use.
  • Scans are available for as little as US$120, much cheaper than Thailand.
  • Most preventive medicine and outpatient surgery can be carried out at a medical clinic, though some specialties may require you to go to a hospital.
+ Can I get specialised care in Cambodia?
  • Cambodia’s ever-expanding medical infrastructure is diversifying but the range of treatments remains limited.
  • However, Phnom Penh now has reliable options for westerners seeking physiotherapy, dermatology, psychiatric care, and radiology treatments.
  • Culture shock can create anxiety and depression, and Phnom Penh offers a variety of counsellors.
  • However, there are only a handful of western-PhD holding therapists working in Phnom Penh.
  • International SOS staffs a German-trained dermatologist who can treat skin diseases and perform skin biopsy.
  • Ultrasound, MRI, CT, and X-Ray services are available at Calmette Hospital, with reliable medical reports provided.
+ How do I open a hospital or clinic in Cambodia?
  • Opening a clinic or hospital requires obtaining a license through the Department of Hospital Services within the Ministry of Health, as well as the Ministry of Commerce.
  • A hospital or clinic can be 100 percent foreign owned, although the registering physician must be Khmer.
  • For a recent graduate in the West with student loans to pay off, it may not be practical to set up a practice in Cambodia because the wages are not competitive.
  • Westerners are often automatically granted a high level of trust because they come from a richer country with more resources for learning.
  • The primary issue for newcomers will be that of the language barrier. Finding a qualified translator may assist this.
  • Other pitfalls include navigating the multitude of cultural differences between Eastern and Western medical beliefs and attitudes.
  • Nevertheless, an abundance of hands-on experience is available in Cambodia, and practitioners will be exposed to diseases and maladies rarely encountered in the West.
  • Also, significantly, medical malpractice insurance is not required in Cambodia.
  • Medical professionals, both Khmer and foreign, need to be licensed to practice by the Department of Hospital Services of the Ministry of Health (MOH), and foreign doctors require a work permit from the Ministry of Commerce.
  • The MOH is also responsible for regulating hospitals, clinics and medical professionals, as well as NGOs involved in healthcare.
+ How is the medical labour pool in Cambodia?
  • The pool of Khmer medical professionals is still, for the most part, perceived as substandard by the Western medical community. However, the situation is changing quickly.
  • The pool of Khmer medical practitioners is growing everyday as more graduates finish their studies. The degree of commitment and compassion of these young professionals is no different to other countries.
  • Many Khmer doctors and other medical professionals have received extensive training abroad, or from visiting medical personnel from other countries.
  • The top medical school in Cambodia is the University of Health Science.
  • However, when compared to top-tier international medical schools, the quality of medical training here is still somewhat compromised due to a lack of state-of-the-art technology and medical research units.
+ What about dentists?
  • Dental care in Cambodia now approaches international standards with many foreign or foreign-trained dentists practicing, especially in Phnom Penh.
  • Everything from a basic clean to more complex procedures, such as root canal work, can be carried out to high standards and the costs are generally less than elsewhere in the region.
  • Cambodia has an excellent community of dentists that offer top-notch service at a fraction of the price in the West.
  • Always check the qualifications of your chosen dentist.
  • International dentists will also generally ship equipment from their country.
  • Quality root canal treatment and gum treatment is poor across Cambodia, with the country’s dentistry strengths lying in cosmetic treatment.
  • With the country’s recent entry into ASEAN, standards are expected to rise.
+ What about physiotherapists?
  • There are Khmer visitor clinics, although many do not conduct full assessments.
  • The Phnom Penh Physiotherapy clinic employs international staff and standards.
+ My pet is sick! Is it easy to find a veterinarian in Cambodia?
  • Animal medical practices are a growing business in Cambodia, and the welfare of animals, from pets to livestock to wild animals, is seen as an increasingly important matter.
  • A number of NGOs work to improve animal welfare through vaccination campaigns and other animal health programmes.
  • For pet owners, vets (both foreign and Khmer) are available in the country.
+ Are there medical NGOs offering treatment and services in Cambodia?
  • Medical NGOs operate throughout Cambodia, offering a range of free or low-cost services for poor to low-income families.
  • NGO activities run the gamut from providing individual health and public health education, cataract surgery, dental health, pre-natal and material examinations to drug and sex education.
  • The UN sponsored Malaria management programme in Cambodia is known as one of the world’s best, and has been very successful in controlling its spread.
  • Health Top Tips
  • Our panel of experts in the medical and pharmaceutical industry share some tips on how to stay fit & healthy while living here.
+ Keep it real
  • Fake pharmaceuticals remain an issue in Cambodia, with the majority being produced in China, India and Vietnam.
  • It’s difficult to tell fake medicines from real ones but it’s possible by looking at the lot number printed on the box and blister, which should match.
  • Other signs include reduced price and difference in colours among boxes of the same medication.
  • The most frequently counterfeited drugs tend to be painkillers, Viagra, Valium, and sleeping pills.
  • Expensive but necessary medications such as anti-diabetes, anti-malarial and antibiotic drugs are also commonly counterfeited, particularly in rural areas.
  • Be sure to check the expiry date on the packaging.
  • To be safe always use a well-kept pharmacy with a trained pharmacist who provides medication with proper instructions.
  • Some good ones are certified pharmacies such as Pharmalink, U-Care, Western Pharmacy, Guardian and Pharmacie de la Gare.
  • Always insist on a package insert (counterfeit medicines will not have one).
+ Watch out for malaria and dengue in certain areas
  • While malaria is not prevalent in Cambodia there are some pockets of the country where it exists and preventative measures should be put in place.
  • Malaria is low risk in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap but there is a risk when in rural, mountainous or jungle areas.
  • Dengue fever is active across the country.
  • No vaccine currently exists for dengue fever, which is carried by daytime mosquitoes.
  • Doctors recommend proper clothing and proper mosquito repellents with high DEET content.
  • Most cases of dengue can be treated at clinics in Phnom Penh but evacuation may have to be considered if a blood transfusion is required in advanced stages of the disease.
  • Malaria mosquitoes are usually prevalent at dusk and pose a real risk in some areas.
  • The Thai-Cambodian border is where malaria is the most resistant worldwide.
  • There is a quarantine enforced here if anyone shows a confirmed case of malaria because it’s a very strong strain and is not known anywhere else in the world.
  • However, the Ministry of Health runs advanced malaria control programmes. Across the rest of Cambodia, malaria can be vaccinated against.
  • Antibiotics, including antimalarial drugs, are widely available, but should always be purchased at reliable pharmacies.
  • Many doctors don’t support the use of antimalarial drugs if unnecessary – as they can have significant side effects.
  • Preventative Care in Cambodia
  • What vaccines will you need; and where to get ‘em…
+ What vaccines do I need and where can I get them in Cambodia?
  • Visitors should be current on routine vaccines before coming to Cambodia.
  • This includes measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and a yearly flu shot.
  • The hepatitis A vaccine is also prudent in Cambodia because you can contract the virus through contaminated food or water just about anywhere in Cambodia.
  • Typhoid can be contracted through contaminated food or water in Cambodia.
  • You may consider this vaccine if you will be spending considerable time in the provinces, visiting particularly rural areas, or if you like to sample the local food products.
  • You can get Hepatitis B through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products.
  • This vaccine is recommended if you might have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo or piercing, or have any medical procedure.
  • You only need to consider the Japanese encephalitis vaccine if your trip will last more than a month, and depending on where you are going in Cambodia and what time of year you are traveling. It is one of the more expensive Vaccines.
  • For the vast majority of people who merely visit Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, preventative malaria medication is a waste of time and money.
  • Prescription preventative malaria medication may be warranted based on your travel plans, such as where you are going, or if you are spending a lot of time outdoors or sleeping outside.
  • Many doctors don’t support the use of antimalarial drugs if unnecessary – as they can have significant side effects.
  • The best way to avoid malaria is to avoid mosquito bites by using common sense. Wear long pants after dusk, and use a good mosquito repellent.
  • There is no national requirement for animal inoculation against rabies which is found in dogs, bats, cats, monkeys and other mammals in Cambodia, so preventative vaccination may be a good idea for people involved in outdoor activities that put them at risk for animal bites.
  • It is also, a must for people who will be working with or around animals, such as veterinarians and wildlife professionals.
  • Sihanoukville has seen an increase in foreigners contracting rabies in recent times. Beware of dogs acting strangely around beach areas. If you are bitten, see a doctor immediately. Rabies in humans is fatal.
  • Dengue fever is active across the country.
  • A partially effective vaccine against dengue will be made available in the country by the end of 2017.
  • Proper clothing and proper mosquito repellents with high DEET content are recommended if travelling or staying in high-risk areas.
  • If you do fall ill, most cases of dengue can be treated at clinics in Phnom Penh.
  • Keep in mind, Dengue is not easy to diagnose as its symptoms mirror many other fevers, so ensure your doctor is familiar with the management of this condition
+ Should I get vaccinated before I come to Cambodia?
  • While it is advisable to arrive in Cambodia with an up-to-date set of recommended vaccinations, all of the necessary shots are now available in Phnom Penh regardless.
  • Quality-controlled vaccines are administered at international clinics.
  • Post-exposure treatment, including full vaccination cycles, for rabies and tetanus are also available at the international clinics.
+ What preventative measures will make sure I stay healthy once I am in Cambodia?
  • Maintaining your own health is very important.
  • Failing to stay healthy is an element that is imperative for expats.
  • Many people do not realise the importance of exercise and staying healthy to your long-term health.
  • Every study conducted shows people who exercise live longer and have a much better quality of life when they get older.
  • The body you have now is the body you’re making for the future.
  • There is no excuse because there are many good gyms available in Phnom Penh.
+ How should I start my own medical business?
  • Create a long-term investment plan: Take the long view and allow a ten to 15-year time investment for your pharmacy or clinic to become profitable and have an impact in the community.
  • Study your target audience: Understand who you are targeting and their income level before deciding what products you are going to offer them.
  • Become familiar with local suppliers: Be aware that there are a lot of medications that local suppliers will not be able to provide. Research this carefully and try to find suppliers with the highest quality and widest range of pharmaceuticals.
  • Study local cultural norms: Consider your patient’s cultural background and, if possible, avoid situations that might make him/her feel uncomfortable.
  • Advance your skills: Many foreign medical practitioners working in Cambodia take the opportunity to do voluntary work in the provinces. The ailments and limitations encountered allow them to take their skill set a step further.
  • Become familiar with networking venues: Take time to make the right connections. In the medical field, as in any other industry, who you know can be vital.
People & Skills
People & Skills

Take a look at the labour market in Cambodia and get some expert advice on how to recruit, induct and train staff, as well how best to seek work, if you’re looking yourself.

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+ What should be taken into consideration when hiring Khmer staff?
  • Hiring takes time, patience and money.
  • The average Cambodian worker works 47 hours per week.
  • Working hours vary a lot. Most office workers work around 40 hours per week, though if the office opens on Saturday morning then they work more like 45 hours. Blue-collar and industrial workers work 48 hours per week before overtime payment applies.
  • Cambodia is home to one of the youngest work forces in the world with over 50 percent of the country under the age of 24.
  • In the majority of cases, employees will be required to carry out extensive training to ensure staff carry out their role to satisfactory standards.
  • Taking into account the potential impact of any cultural divides and how they will be dealt with is also important.
  • Private training and capacity building specialists are becoming increasingly available in Cambodia, providing much-needed coverage for the nation’s skills gap.
+ Are there any common problems that arise when employing local staff?
  • Staff retention can be a big problem with employees often being poached or moving to different companies within short spaces of time.
  • To avoid staff turnover, offer ongoing training and incentives, yearly bonus structures, fairly relaxed schedules, regular capacity building training, career development, promotions and employee benefits, such as accident and health insurance, assistance in education for your staff’s children and profit sharing.
  • It is essential to keep up with market salary rates, do a review every 6 months if you are in a ‘high-demand, low-supply’ sector.
  • Retaining your staff is possible only if your company is willing to provide necessary positive working conditions, fair remuneration and professional career development equally to your expat and local staff.
  • Treat your staff like a family – and their loyalty will increase. Building a culture where everybody contributes and cares for each other can help to get the best out of your employees.
  • Take time to understand your workers and their mindsets.
  • In Cambodia students often don’t seem to be well prepared for the business world. Sometimes, they have not being trained in the soft skills that are tantamount to achieving smooth interrelationships, such as how to present oneself and one’s company advantageously, how to look self-confident, how to make an appointment by phone, or how to address an audience in a presentation.
  • The result is that Khmer people often look awkward and embarrassed in such situations that are all too usual in business. Of course there are exceptions, and some people are outgoing and extraverted but they seem to be just that, exceptions.
  • Many Western employers complaining that there is frequently a gap in professionalism that can only be bridged by intensive training by the employers.
  • Given that skilled employees are in high demand in Cambodia now and the pool is still relatively small (albeit growing), the cost of hiring these skilled employees is increasing.
  • Another option for employers is to look for young employees who have the right attitude, motivation and are fast learners. With this solid foundation, you can more easily grow your employees into valuable contributors.
+ What sort of salary do local staff command?
  • Gone are the days when foreigners can pay Cambodians, regardless of their skill-set, poor wages.
  • Increasingly you get what you pay for.
  • Education, knowledge and training improve everyday. Yet, so do salary expectations.
  • This is only going to grow with the younger generation and as more skills are passed on via international companies.
  • Staff with higher skill sets, or specialist skills, have increased job mobility, and often chase higher wages.
  • Induction into the ASEAN community offers new opportunities for Khmer workers across Asia – this means they will need to be convinced to stay in Cambodia.
+ What is the process for employing Cambodian staff?
  • All employers must comply with the comprehensive Labour Law, which sets out employees’ rights and employers’ obligations.
  • Salaries are usually quoted gross with benefits, such as insurance, pensions and holidays becoming more important, although money is still seen as the main motivator.
  • Once terms and salary are agreed, a three-month probation period is standard practise, with terms being clearly stated in the contract.
+ What is the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and how can it assist my business?
  • The NSSF was established in 2007 in order to administer the schemes of Social Security protection under the National Social Security Law, and it was fully functional as of 2008. The fund offers basic social security to all workers in the private sector.
  • The NSSF already provides workers with injury insurance, health insurance and it is currently working on creating a pension system. All employers must register with NSSF.
  • Following a recent expansion of the scheme, employers will match a worker contribution of 1.3 percent of their salary.
  • Registration forms can be found online at www.nssf.gov.kh.
  • Before you can open a business and begin hiring you must notify the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT) and provide a Declaration of the Opening of a Business.
  • The Labour Inspector must be notified within seven days of hiring or firing an employee.
+ Do I need to complete any official documents before I can hire staff?
  • Before you can open a business and begin hiring you must notify the Ministry of Labour & Vocational Training (MoLVT) and provide a Declaration of the Opening of a Business.
  • See the business startup section for more detail information on this, and the legal and accounting section for info regarding work permits.
  • The Labour Inspector must be notified within seven days of hiring or firing an employee.
+ Do I have to organise work permits for my staff?
  • The obligation is on the employer to register employees, assist in arranging work permits and even withhold and pay their own income taxes.
  • The same is true for contracts with freelancers or consultants.
  • See the legal and accounting section for full information on how to obtain work permits for Khmer and foreign staff.
+ What are the guidelines for hiring foreigners?
  • Under the 1997 Labour Law (as amended) and the 1994 Immigration Law, foreigners who wish to work in Cambodia are required to have a valid E visa issued by the Cambodian embassy, consulate or immigration authorities at the port of entry.
  • The most recent laws that formally govern work permits are Prakas No. 195, 20 August 2014, “On Work Permits and Employment Cards for Foreigners”; and Prakas No. 196, 20 August 2014, “On Employment of Foreign Labour”.
  • Employees must have a work permit and an employment card issued by the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.
  • The process demands that business owners first must register their company.
  • When registering a business in Cambodia, the Company must make a “Declaration of Opening a Business” in writing and deliver it either to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training for companies with more than 100 employees or to the Department of Labour and Vocational Training for 100 employees and less.
  • Having done this, the company must register its entire staff with the DOL. Don’t forget, this includes both foreign and Khmer staff.
  • If the Company wishes to use foreigners as employees, the Company must request a permit for employment of foreign labour (Quota).
  • This is done by both a Request Form and a Request Table, for use of foreign workforce.
  • If the rate of foreign labour exceeds 10 percent of the total employees, a request letter must be sent which thoroughly and clearly explains the positions in excess of the quota and the specialty and professional skills of each of these foreign workers. A penalty payment normally applies for each worker in excess of the quota.
  • Foreigners are issued a Foreign Work Permit and Foreign Employment card.
  • Although by law the Company is required to make a declaration in writing each time an employee is hired or dismissed, in practice the Company should register new employees as they are hired and provide the workbook and card to departing employees.
  • Labour Inspectors routinely update the company’s labour records for incoming and outgoing employees when the company is audited.
  • Once the company and staff are registered, workbooks will be issued for all staff. After registration, however, the Department of Labour can request staff status updates.
  • As part of this process, the DOL ask for extensive details about employees listed for a company, including foreigner quotas, and expect this information to be updated every time the employees of a business change.
  • This may be a somewhat expensive process, especially if you employ a large number of staff at your company, and if your registration is long overdue.
  • While this was once an unenforced law, Government inspectors have now begun foreign labour inspection at workplaces in order to fully enforce the law, including a comprehensive review of the declaration of personnel and its updates, quota approval for foreign labour usage, employment contracts for foreigners, employment cards and work permits, valid passports, valid visas of the appropriate type, and foreign workers themselves.
  • In August 2017, police officials at the Department of Immigration confirmed that it would become compulsory for all foreigners to obtain an official work permit/employment card to be eligible to apply for a long-term extension to their E visa.
  • Non-compliance can lead to a fine and/or imprisonment. In order to get a business visa now, one also needs to be able to show a valid work permit. See the legal and accounting section for full information on how to obtain work permits for Khmer and foreign staff.
Recruitment Top Tips
Here’s a few things to remember when recruiting in Cambodia.
+ Snap up the right staff
  • Employing the right staff at the start can pay off in the long run.
  • Recruitment is often carried out through the traditional ways of advertising in newspapers, on job boards and through recruitment agencies.
  • Although, Cambodia works on a much more word-of-mouth basis.
  • Employees will often be recruited through recommendations, friends or relatives of current employees or even through social network avenues.
  • Recruiting the ‘old-school’ way (by asking employees to recommend people) has a big downside. You will discover that the people the first employee recommends have close personal relationships to them – and their loyalty will be to them, not to your company. This works fine when things are going well but when there are problems it can magnify them and it is most likely that the staff will bring personal issues into the company.
+ Keep them interested
  • With staff retention remaining the most common problem, keeping them on board with your business is vital.
  • This can be achieved through several avenues, depending on your business and workforce.
  • Options include incentive schemes, rewards, regular work and achievements assessments and team building.
+ Think outside the box
  • Think outside the box when trying to fill particular skillset gaps.
  • The lack of specified skills in certain areas should not deter potential businesses.
  • Any recruitment issues can be minimised by forward planning.
  • For example, consider approaching universities and specify what you seek in a suitable graduate.
  • That way, skills can be learnt before they are hired by your business.
  • Skills are becoming an increasingly diverse industry in Cambodia.
  • Don’t give up on finding skills so easily.
  • People are striving to learn so it’s important to take a pro-active approach and search for those who have the potential to attain the skills you need.
+ Stay sensitive
  • Cultural awareness is very important in Cambodia.
  • It is important to remember you are a guest in someone else’s country and behave accordingly.
  • The out-of-touch foreign manager versus the disgruntled local employee is an all too familiar tale in the Cambodian labour market.
  • However, if you take the time to learn a little about Khmer culture, it will go a very long way.
  • Khmers generally have a strong family unit, respect for their elders, and tend to avoid conflict when possible, preferring to save face.
  • “Face”, in this context, refers to a sociological concept that describes the lengths an individual may go to in order to preserve their position in society or the workplace.
  • When one is “saving face”, they are taking action to ensure their peers will not think less of them.
  • This cultural trait needs to be properly understood and addressed with respect.
  • It needs to be understood whilst doing business not only in Cambodia, but also across Asia.
  • For instance, the famous “Cambodian smile” may not always mean they’re happy to hear bad news.
  • The smile can act as a screen, hiding embarrassment or annoyance when hearing negative news.
  • Foreigners should pay attention not to become emotional, not to raise their voices or shout at their Khmer employees, both publicly and privately.
  • Pointing to a mistake is making a person lose face. This damage is irreparable and the victim will never forget. Any criticism should be done, if possible, indirectly and at all times privately.
  • But, for a westerner not aware of this cultural trait, future reactions down the line can come as a shock.
  • Khmer culture, which is highly hierarchical, often doesn’t reward expressing critical views toward a superior.
  • Cambodians hate sending negative feedback so no feedback is better that bringing bad news to the boss. Foreigners must not assume that no negative feedback means no problem. Cambodians expect the bosses to discover any issue for themselves.
  • Cambodians also have a collectivist mentality, which makes standing out something to be avoided.
  • Cambodians don’t generally respond well to ultimatums or direct demands.
  • Khmer people belong to a high-context culture where the way things are said is sometimes more important that what is actually being said. Cambodians like to communicate indirectly and hate confrontation.
  • As a result to be effective communicators foreigners should be tactful and indirect. They should avoid closed and aggressive questions.
  • Cambodians are perceived by foreigners as lacking assertiveness and self-confidence. They do feel embarrassed when speaking English, which is quite understandable. But also, Cambodians don’t like to “sell” themselves and are culturally rather modest and low-key.
  • Cambodians may need convincing. This will foster the most motivation and lead to the best result.
  • The “time is money” concept so prevalent in the West is foreign to many Cambodians, whose Buddhist tradition of reincarnation takes a very long view of things.
  • For Cambodians time is unlimited and doing several tasks at once is the norm. In the workplace the importance of meeting deadlines and arriving on time for a meeting must be taught to them.
  • Khmer women are often less likely to take on the leadership roles and have a harder time to assert their decisions with their male colleagues or/and expats.
  • However, this is easily resolved with a consistent empowerment and equal opportunity practices in the work place, such as career development, leadership coaching and capacity building for women leaders, among others.
  • For instance, Cambodian sales people will seldom try to sell their product to someone immediately. In Khmer sales culture, a personal relationship must be developed between two parties before sales are even discussed.
  • Most Khmer sales people will refuse to work purely on commission.
Recruitment and Retention
Recruitment agencies can save you time and effort in Cambodia. Here’s a quick guide on how to make the most out of what’s available.
+ What do recruitment agencies do in Cambodia?
  • Recruitment agencies can save you time and effort by screening initial job applicants and developing a short-list of qualified candidates for you to interview.
  • They usually charge a percentage of the applicant’s salary, typically around six weeks’ of post-probation salary.
  • Many companies adopt more traditional approaches to finding staff, such as placing signs outside their premises.
  • Newspaper advertisements are favoured for some positions as well as tenders for government contracts, which can be found in both the English and Khmer language dailies.
  • There are also a number of online recruitment websites and classified ad sites that include job boards.
+ How much do recruitment agencies cost in Cambodia?

They usually charge a percentage of the applicant’s salary, typically in the region of six weeks’ post-probation salary.

+ What are some conventional approaches to recruitment and hiring in Cambodia?
  • Many companies adopt traditional approaches to finding staff, such as placing signs outside their premises.
  • Newspaper advertisements are favoured for some positions as well as tenders for government contracts, which can be found in both the English and Khmer language dailies.
  • There are also a number of online recruitment websites and classified ads sites, such as BongThom.
+ What are some more innovative approaches to recruitment and hiring in Cambodia?
  • Less conventional approaches to large-scale recruitment can also reap rewards. Radio and TV advertising can be effective at reaching large numbers of potential workers.
  • Many employers make arrangements with universities to hold job fairs and recruitment drives.
  • Direct approaches, like passing out flyers at traffic lights or in restaurants near similar businesses, are also cost effective.
  • Social media is proving to be another popular recruitment tool, with many young Khmers having a huge presence on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, and for expat employees Expat Advisory’s forum is a good tool.
  • Often the best way to find the perfect employee is by hitting the networks and word-of-mouth.
  • Staff referrals are another good way to find trustworthy new staff inside your current employees’ networks of friends and family.
  • Beware of taking job seekers’ credentials at face value as many cover letters, CVs (Résumés) and certificates may be inaccurate, inflated or inconsistent.
  • Creating a simple questionnaire for initial applicants to complete will often weed out as many as three quarters of them, and can be carried out via email.
  • Recruitment agencies are skilled at identifying unverifiable or bogus information on CVs.
+ How should I retain staff?
  • Like anywhere else you will find that engaged staff stay and you have high turnover of ‘non-engaged’ staff. Try to ensure that your engagement strategies apply to all levels of staff, not just to the seniors.
  • Staff engagement strategies that you have used in other countries can be adapted to Cambodia – bringing culture into account.
  • Money has historically been the root of staff retention issues in Cambodia, leaving business owners surprised to discover staff moving jobs for relatively small pay increases.
  • This is becoming less common in professional roles as candidates realise that job-hopping doesn’t look good on their CVs.
  • In cases where staff choose to leave a company in an effort to save face or avoid a potentially awkward confrontation with a manager or other staff member, they may not give a true reason for leaving, perhaps claiming a family member is sick.
  • It is vital to find out what the applicants’ real expectations and ambitions are, and what kind of job they truly want to do.
  • By assigning jobs based on the relative skills and desires of a worthy applicant, retention rates will improve.
  • Skills Top Tips
  • Skills are something expats talk about a lot in Cambodia. Here’s some gems from those conversations put together in one place, meaning you can benefit from their various advice before you set out to find competent employees for your business.
+ Hidden skills
  • A commonly quoted concern from businesses is difficulty finding reliable and competent staff to fill managerial or specific skill-set positions.
  • Cambodians, especially the younger generation, are being equipped with more skills but sometimes they can be difficult to find.
  • As soon as you start looking for technical jobs, it can be hard to find well-skilled local people.
  • You have the competencies in Cambodia but you have to find them and salaries are moving quite fast here, especially for technical jobs and those requiring high-level skills.
  • The strengths that lie with the Cambodian market are the volume of people readily available to work.
  • The broadness of business degrees, for example, creates skills gaps when it comes to specialisation.
  • This makes it harder for employers to determine where a person’s strengths lie.
  • This is something that is set to change in the future as education in the country starts to become more specified.
+ Train, train, and train some more
  • Something you have to be prepared for coming in is that you are going to have to do quite a lot of training and development.
  • Ensure your business has a good orientation and onboarding process set up to help people coming into the company with both the practical side of doing the job and also adaptation into your workplace culture.
  • And this doesn’t just relate to entry level employees: There’s often a gap between where the mid-level people or line managers are at compared to the senior leadership of the organisation.
  • So it’s important to create leadership experiences for people over a period of time which will help them to build some of those higher level competencies like complex problem-solving, long-range thinking, strategic thinking, and working across cross-functional teams, which will build their capabilities for taking on more senior leadership roles.
  • Focus on quality of character when hiring.
  • The personality and the adaptability of the person will indicate whether they can be further trained to fit the position and the ethos of the business.
  • Typical Pay Grades in Cambodia
  • Salary negotiations are tricky at the best of times and in Cambodia can be even more so.
  • Here are some answers to a few issues you might run into.
+ What's a reasonable pay rate in Cambodia?
  • These days, it’s in a company’s interest to do research around compensation to ensure employers don’t lose employees by going too low, or lose their competitive advantage by setting pay rates too high.
  • There are three basic categories of employees in Cambodia, starting with expats who are brought in, usually on a senior management level, to fill an existing need.
  • Compensation packages are generally set according to the standards of their country of origin, in many cases including additional benefits such as flights back home once a year.
  • Then there are expats hired on local contracts, and, while they usually earn more than their Cambodians counterparts, their compensation is set after negotiations with the employer.
  • Cambodians themselves make up the third group.
  • In the past, and still to some extent today, salaries for locals were often set by asking around and finding out what other people are paying.
  • As Cambodian expectations change and the market develops, offering competitive compensation is growing ever more important to keep employees motivated and loyal.
  • We are finding that Cambodian seniors are now making more salary than locally recruited foreigners. Basically they have a track record of success, they can function in 2 or more languages and there are no cultural issues when they come to managing their teams.
+ What type of compensation packages already exist in Cambodia?
  • Cambodian salaries have typically been low because of the country’s history, but they are moving fast.
  • There are three basic categories of employees in Cambodia, starting with expats who are brought in, usually on a senior management level, to fill an existing need.
  • Compensation packages are generally set according to the standards of their country of origin, in many cases including additional benefits such as flights back home once a year.
  • Then there are expats hired on local contracts, and while they usually earn more than their Cambodians counterparts, their compensation is set after negotiations with the employer.
  • Cambodians themselves make up the third group.
  • In the past, and still to some extent today, salaries for locals were often set by asking around and finding out what other people are paying.
  • While the private sector was still relatively small, this worked out OK and many start-up companies hired family members or friends.
  • But as Cambodian expectations change and the market develops, proper compensation is growing ever more important to keep employees motivated and loyal.
  • And as the country’s talented pool of skilled workers continues to grow, the gap between expat and local salaries taking up these positions has closed.
  • One of the benefits of using a recruitment agency is that they will supply you with information about current salary rates in your sector and for each function. Top Recruitment Cambodia supplies all this kind of information as a Value Added Service.
+ What type of compensation packages already exist in Cambodia?
  • Cambodian salaries have typically been low because of the country’s history, but they are moving fast.
  • There are three basic categories of employees in Cambodia, starting with expats who are brought in, usually on a senior management level, to fill an existing need.
  • Compensation packages are generally set according to the standards of their country of origin, in many cases including additional benefits such as flights back home once a year.
  • Then there are expats hired on local contracts, and while they usually earn more than their Cambodians counterparts, their compensation is set after negotiations with the employer.
  • Cambodians themselves make up the third group.
  • In the past, and still to some extent today, salaries for locals were often set by asking around and finding out what other people are paying.
  • While the private sector was still relatively small, this worked out OK and many start-up companies hired family members or friends.
  • But as Cambodian expectations change and the market develops, proper compensation is growing ever more important to keep employees motivated and loyal.
  • And as the country’s talented pool of skilled workers continues to grow, the gap between expat and local salaries taking up these positions has closed.
  • One of the benefits of using a recruitment agency is that they will supply you with information about current salary rates in your sector and for each function. Top Recruitment Cambodia supplies all this kind of information as a Value Added Service.
+ Should I try outsourcing?
  • Outsourcing is a small but growing component of Cambodia’s HR market.
  • It is particularly suitable for manufacturing staff and sales forces because companies can be provided with short-term workers, contract workers or full time employees and have the selection, HR and payroll organised by an outsourcing agency.
Training
Training courses in Cambodia are varied and range in scope from improving skills in IT to management techniques, communication skills, customer care, administration, sales and more.
Here is a bit of extra info on training available for you and your staff.
+ Is training expensive in Cambodia?
  • Costs and quality of training vary so decide what outcomes you need.
  • Some firms, such as AAA Cambodia and the Capacity Specialists, will tailor a course to meet specific requirements, starting by understanding the strategic needs of the business, then conducting a skills analysis before devising a suitable package with specific learning outcomes and evaluations.
+ What types of training companies are available in Cambodia?
  • The trick then, for businesses needing specific skills that are currently scarce in the market, is ongoing on-the-job training.
  • Luckily, private training and capacity building specialists are increasingly available in Cambodia, and the quality is rising too.
  • The NGO sector also offers a variety of opportunities for upskilling your labour force, such as vocational schools, hospitalities training and some IT skills centres.
  • See the NGO section for more information about this.
  • Training courses are varied and range in scope from improving skills in IT to management techniques, communication skills, customer care, administration, sales and more.
  • “Soft skills” are proving increasingly popular, such as business communication, sales approaches and interpersonal relationships.
  • As the Cambodian business landscape is still developing, many local staff lack experience and abilities that might be taken for granted in more developed markets.
  • Cost and quality of training also varies so decide what outcomes you need and tailor any courses to your particular requirements.
  • Team building and professional development sessions can also be arranged in Cambodia, to break down barriers in the workplace and strengthen the company’s team cohesion.
+ Is capacity building straightforward in Cambodia?
  • A common complaint voiced by business owners in Cambodia is how hard it can be to find qualified, motivated staff.
  • Despite the fact that the country is a potential human resources gold mine, thanks to its young population and growing numbers attending universities and vocational schools, many entering the job market are lacking important business skills.
  • “Soft skills” such as business communication, sales approaches and interpersonal relationships are often lacking.
  • Since the Cambodian market is still developing, many Cambodians simply don’t yet have experience and abilities that might be taken for granted in the developed world.
  • As expectations of customers and organisations change, employers would be well advised to make sure staff members know the basics.
  • A common problem is a lot of younger staff joining an organisation need to learn the basics.
  • These include customer service and answering emails and returning phone calls promptly.
  • But these are all things that can easily be taught.
+ How can I assess the skills of potential employees?
  • n a foreign country, things do not always run smoothly and expats can run into trouble when they lose their job, work runs dry, they want a change in career or their business goes bust.
  • Skills assessments can provide both individuals and companies with the means to improve their capabilities and overcome these hurdles.
  • Unemployed individuals can talk to a consultant, who can help to steer them in the right career direction and question what they can achieve, where they should go, maintaining a healthy balance between personal and work needs.
  • Another form of skills assessment involves assessing the skills of the team as a whole and individually, and how they work together through a series of individual and team sessions.
  • This is also beneficial in promoting communication and breaking down barriers.
  • Intern programmes are a useful way to find diamonds in the rough, and test capacity before offering an employment contract.
Looking for Work
If you are looking for a job yourself, Cambodia presents plenty of unique opportunities. Read on to find out more.
+ What sort of work is available for foreigners in Cambodia?
  • Cambodia has many jobs on offer for foreigners, though menial jobs such as bartending and truck driving are unlikely to pay adequately to support a foreigner’s needs.
  • Scour the daily newspapers, job websites and expat forums for vacancies.
  • Recruitment agencies will be able to advise you on your options in the private sector and suggest new applications for your skills, as well as line up interviews with potential employers.
  • NGOs often recruit via their head office abroad or from within the existing pool of experienced workers already in Cambodia. Attending networking events and scouring social media sites is another good option.
+ How will my salary differ than in my home-country?
  • The majority of expatriates haven’t arrived in Cambodia to get rich, but it is possible to have a comfortable lifestyle on a much tighter budget than in the western world.
  • You may find you need to revise your expectations of salary, unless you’re fortunate enough to have been brought here by an international company on an “expat package”.
  • However, the lower salary is offset by a lower cost of living.
  • The simple fact is that because the vast majority of foreigners cannot communicate adequately in Khmer, they cannot be considered for roles requiring them to speak the language, even if they have the skills and experience required.
  • Employers would almost always rather hire a Cambodian who has market knowledge and speaks both Khmer and English.
+ Are recruitment agencies useful for expats seeking work in Cambodia?
  • Recruitment agencies will be able to advise you on your options in the private sector and suggest new applications for your skills, as well as line up interviews with potential employers.
  • NGOs often recruit via their head office abroad or from within the existing pool of experienced workers already in Cambodia. Attending networking events and scouring social media sites is another good option.
+ Can I work freelance in Cambodia?
  • Many businesses will at times have a short-term requirement for a specialist skill, be it photography, copywriting, IT or research.
  • In these cases using a freelancer or consultant may be the best option.
  • Such people are easy to find if you ask around, but make sure you’re clear on exactly what you want and when you want it.
  • A well thought-out brief, including the work to be provided and a reasonable timeframe, will help you to receive suitable proposals.
  • Advertise your contract through online forums, ask around your networks or put an ad in the paper.
  • Don’t wait too long to make a decision – freelancers get frustrated when a contract hasn’t been awarded by the time the project was supposed to be delivered.
  • Be sure that issues such as payment, delivery times and termination are agreed before work starts.
  • Freelancers must obtain a work permit to work legally in Cambodia. You can apply online (www.fwcms.mlvt.gov.kh). Unfortunately it appears that the website is not very well equipped to deal with the self-employed yet and the process can be arduous.
Education
Education

Are you bringing children with you to Cambodia?

Thankfully, Phnom Penh has numerous schools offering international standards of education for children of all ages.

Or do you want to learn new skills or brush up on old ones?

There are a number of venues offering extra-curriculum options, ranging from languages, art and photography, to creative writing, dance and computing skills. These options include internationally-accredited online courses and degrees.

In this section, we take a look at some of the various schools on offer in the capital, as well advice on selecting the very best for your needs.

If you can’t find your answer here, please kindly contact ALPHA International Corporation Ltd.

+ What type and quality of schooling is available in Cambodia?
  • Traditionally, world-class education has been rare but as more foreign workers relocate here, the standard of schooling in Cambodia has risen.
  • Today, Cambodia boasts thousands of schools, which vary in both fees and standards.
  • State education is governed by the Cambodian Ministry of Education at a national level and the Department of Education at a provincial level.
  • The Cambodian education system is made up of pre-school, primary, secondary, higher education and non-formal education.
  • Most expat parents place their children in one of the many international schools found in Phnom Penh, such as Northbridge International, iCAN British International and the International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP).
  • Be careful and do your research though: not all schools purporting to be international are of that standard.
+ What is the quality of state education in Cambodia?
  • State education is governed by the Ministry of Education at a national level and the Department of Education at a provincial level.
  • The Cambodian education system is made up of pre-school, primary, secondary, higher education and non-formal education.
  • In public schools, the curriculum and teaching levels vary greatly across the education sector in Cambodia.
  • However, the average Cambodian teacher in a public high school is lowly paid and may not have sufficient teaching qualifications.
  • A lack of accountability in the Cambodian education system has likewise hampered its improvement, with endemic cheating and corruption damaging the reputation and worth of Cambodian qualifications.
  • Nevertheless, recent and continuing reforms from the Ministry of Education, combined with real compliance measures, are addressing these structural issues one by one, so far demonstrating measurable success and a change in ethos toward education in Cambodia.
  • However, Cambodia currently faces a specific skills gap in the education and employment sectors, most significantly in technical areas such as STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering Maths) Education and English language skills.
  • Regardless of what type of school it is, the level most often will come down to the quality of the teachers that are employed to work in the schools.
  • That is the distinguishing factor in any school, International or otherwise—the teachers, their qualifications and the training the teachers have had.
+ And how about international schools in Cambodia?
  • Many expat parents choose to place their children in one of the many international schools found in Phnom Penh, such as Northbridge International, iCAN British International and the International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP).
  • These are private schools that seek to import international standards of teaching and often offer universally accredited qualifications.
  • Be cautioned, however, that not all schools purporting to be international in Cambodia are of that standard so it is worth doing your research carefully.
  • An initial look at a school’s website will give an idea of the facilities, curriculum and approach to education.
  • The second recommended step is to contact the school and ask for a tour.
  • Not only will this give you a chance to see the school grounds, it is especially important to meet the people who manage the school on a daily basis.
  • Teachers and support staff play a critical role and should be assessed before any decision is made.
  • Getting your kids involved in the process is also advisable. They can offer comments and criticisms of schools visited, and offer a contrasting point of view. After all, they have to go there everyday!
+ What are the teaching standards like in Cambodia and how do they vary?
  • Again, teaching standards vary wildly, with some schools accepting backpackers with no qualifications other than being able to speak English.
  • While the majority of schools are tightening up the qualifications their teachers must hold, some are recruited on the mere fact they speak the language, with others holding unaccredited TEFL qualifications.
  • It therefore pays to enquire about the standard of teachers’ qualifications at a school and for background checks to be carried out on support staff.
  • Schools should also be assessed by authorised bodies to ensure they meet international standards.
+ What are the advantages of sending my child to an international school?
  • International schools offer a multi-cultural learning environment.
  • Some International schools boast more than 30 different nationalities of students, allowing different cultures to interact and learn from each other.
  • This produces students who have a better understanding of international demographics, contrasts in culture and an international network of friends.
  • Yet sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.
  • Luckily, nationality caps are common in International schools to encourage demographic balance.
  • By limiting the proportion of any ethnicity across every grade level, it ensures no one nationality ever dominates a classroom.
  • International schools also offer a much larger teacher pool.
  • Highly qualified, professional teachers are the greatest indication that a school provides a high-quality academic offering.
  • Because teaching standards vary so widely, the quality of teachers at a school is a sure sign of expertise.
  • For International Schools, a large labour pool of potential teachers and school staff, not necessarily living in Cambodia as of yet, is a huge advantage.
  • The top International schools are able to recruit from a large pool of some of the best teachers in the world.
  • Still, you need to make sure the quality of the teachers is excellent, not just satisfactory, that there are qualifications in terms of teaching staff, such as certification and on-going development, and they have experience in other international schools.
  • This is because this offers real clues that these teachers not only know how to run a curriculum well but also how to run a multicultural class.
  • Some Cambodian International Schools scour the globe for their teachers, attending international career fairs to select the cream of the crop. Some do not.
  • E-Learning is a common focus of many Cambodian International schools. Increasingly, International Schools are integrating the use of technology within teaching programmes.
  • Yet, beware: A lot of what you’ll see in schools new to e-learning is merely teachers substituting technology for paper and pencil.
  • Meanwhile, the best schools are moving beyond that and are trying to embed the technology in the learning process; redefining what they’re doing, and what they do with the technology. For this type of advanced e-learning, the technology is essential—meaning they couldn’t do it with pencil and paper.
+ What holidays do children get in schools in Cambodia?
  • Holidays and term time vary from school to school.
  • In international schools, terms tend to be split into two semesters, with the first running from August to December and the second from January to June.
  • Most schools close for the traditional Khmer holidays, with some internationally recognized holidays, such as Christmas, thrown in as well.
  • International schools also often boast lengthy holidays over the summer period.
+ What additional subjects will my child be taught?
  • The majority of schools, especially international schools, offer additional classes on top of core subjects.
  • These include PE, art, music, media and IT.
  • Several international schools believe a strong mother-tongue language programme is an essential component of a student’s educational development, and also as an extracurricular option.
  • It has been shown that continuing to develop a student’s native language will help students develop better English skills and skills in other languages generally.
+ Will my child need to sit entry exams?
  • Most international schools require non-native English speaking children to take an English proficiency exam as all classes are taught in English.
  • Most schools will offer support to those who need to brush up on their language skills through a specialist department.
  • The majority of schools do not test children on their curriculum skills as part of their entry but may use a form of testing to determine their level of education and the best place for students within the school.
  • Parents may be asked for their child’s educational history, previous report cards and a confidential reference from a former teacher as part of the admission.
+ What extra-curricular activities are available?
  • The majority of Phnom Penh’s international schools offer a range of extra-curricular activities to pupils.
  • These include everything languages, ‘Glee club’, swimming, arts, technology, horse riding, sports and photography, amongst many others.
  • International schools are able to offer students the opportunity to participate in many global events such as sporting tournaments, arts exchanges, global orchestras and ensembles, and a variety of international trips.
  • YAPP (Young Athletes of Phnom Penh), for example, is an organisation that gets together with all the other schools in the city, not just international schools, and offers a range of sporting activities, events and tournaments.
  • Another organisation is MRISA (Mekong River International Schools Association), and this association connects schools from all around the Mekong region, such as Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, and supports junior varsity and varsity-level sports teams, meet-ups and tournaments.
+ What about extramural and higher education study options in Cambodia?
  • For those who wish to continue their studies as they live and work in Phnom Penh, extramural study options are increasingly available.
  • Phnom Penh is becoming home to various internationally-accredited institutions, which offer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, diplomas and short courses in a range of subjects, such as languages, law, humanities, computing, science, business, management and education, to name just a few.
  • The Open University in Cambodia suits adult students looking to study in Cambodia .As the world leader in modern distance learning, the UK-based University has more than 240,000 students across the globe studying a variety of courses from the comfort of their homes.
  • Adults wanting to expand their knowledge can enrol in a series of universally accredited courses and degrees through the Open University.
  • The internationally accredited institution offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, diplomas and short courses in a range of subjects. This includes languages, law, humanities, computing, science, business, management and education.
  • The Open University may also be able to help deliver development programmes. In addition, an International Development Office may also helps deliver development programmes in partnership with governments, NGOs and funding institutions.
  • Education Top Tips
  • ALPHA International Corporation Cambodia call on our panel of experts to share what they have learnt about education and the schooling system in Cambodia.
+ What do I need to remember when selecting a school?
  • First look at school websites to get an idea of facilities, curriculum and approach to education.
  • Contact the school and ask for a tour.
  • Get your kids involved in the process also.
  • Talk to current and prospective parents.
  • Always look at accreditation standards.
  • Ask the school what options outside of the curriculum it offers? Does the school have language programs, sports programs or other activities for your child to participate in?
+ How can I work out the level of teaching standards at a school?
  • Look at the experience and qualifications of teachers at your chosen school.
  • Do all teaching staff have the correct qualifications? Are teaching staff involved in continuing certification and on-going development?
  • Do they have experience in other international schools? Look for teachers that not only know how to run a curriculum well but also how to run a multi-cultural class.
+ What is and how do I do an accreditation check?
  • Determining if a school offers legitimate accredited educational programs is one of the most critical factors a foreigner should consider when choosing a school in Cambodia.
  • Internationally respected bodies have accredited everything that some international schools do – meaning every single aspect of their curriculum, environment, safety standards and finances are aligned with international standards of practice.
  • Enrolling your child in an internationally accredited school ensures continuity in their education as qualifications are recognised at educational institutions globally.
  • Thus, if a family moves on from Cambodia, children can continue with an uninterrupted education.
  • Some of the main, internationally recognised organisations include the International Baccalaureate (IB), the Council of International Schools in Europe, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Cambridge Curriculum.
  • However, make sure you do your due diligence before signing up for any school. It is important for parents to research this carefully as some of these claims might not be true.
  • Contact the global organisation that an International School claims to represent to confirm any of the school’s credentials, or the credentials of their staff.
  • Language Schools in Cambodia
  • Want to learn a language while you’re here in Cambodia? Easy…
+ What language schools are available in Cambodia?
  • There are many institutions offering language classes for learners of any age.
  • Phnom Penh hosts a multitude of courses in Khmer, French, English, Chinese and Japanese, among many others, suitable for all expertise levels.
  • Check online forums such as Yahoo Cambodia Parent’s Network for details on various classes across Cambodia.
Property & Accomodation
Property & Accomodation

Phnom Penh’s skyline is constantly evolving as new developments change the face of the capital. New business and residential projects are bringing with them a high-end offering, setting the pace for future developments.

We take a look at the new commercial and residential developments that are springing up across the capital as well as find out the best way to find the perfect place to live or premises for your business. With property laws now meaning foreigners can snap up certain premises above the first floor, foreign investment in this arena is also growing.

If you can’t find your answer here, please kindly contact ALPHA International Corporation Ltd.

+ What’s new in the property sector in Phnom Penh?
  • According to real estate giant CBRE, investment into the construction sector during the second quarter of 2017 saw a 64 percent increase year-on-year. It totalled $3.66 billion, with 737 approved projects nationwide during 2017’s Q2.
  • Of the aforementioned 737 projects, most were residential and commercial projects, whilst 23 belonged to the industrial sector.
  • These projects are getting bigger in scale. Affordable housing projects, condominiums, hotels, lifestyle malls and office buildings are the trend.
  • Around 7,000 condo units will enter Phnom Penh’s market by the end of 2017. According to CBRE, sales went well during the first quarter of 2017 for projects that combined high-quality finishes and design with a strong location.
  • Many of these units are bought by wealthy Cambodians or foreigners, primarily as investment properties to either flip or rent out.
  • The fear of a slowdown in the condo market is still a reality, with thousands of units set for completion this year. 3,000 condos were on the market in 2016, with supply expected to jump to over 24,000 units by 2020, according to a report by Knight Frank.
  • Condos that are selling well are those built by regional developers from Taiwan, Singapore, China, Japan and South Korea. They primarily market in their home countries, where buyers snap up apartments as investment properties.
  • Keep in mind that 2018 will bring national elections. Experts generally agree that this event will make people less likely to sell, as prices can become more uncertain during election season.
  • Boreys—gated communities—are rife in outer districts of the city, such as Russei Keo, Toul Kork and Sen Sok, where land is more affordable and space more plentiful.
  • A lack of unoccupied land plots coupled with historically high prices in central districts has caused developers to consider secondary locations. Of particular note is the city’s Sen Sok district where land prices rose 11.8 percent during the first quarter of 2017.
  • Hongkong Land’s flagship project ‘Exchange Square’ was recently completed, delivering a total of 18,000 sqm Grade A office space and 8,000 sqm of retail.
  • The much-anticipated new retail podium is home to a number of retail brands including Lucky Premium Supermarket, Pandora, Hard Rock Cafe, Legend Cinema and Starbucks.
  • Local and regional brands are taking an interest in Phnom Penh’s grocery sector. AEON opened its first premium stand-alone supermarket under the brand of AEON Maxvalu and has plans to expand to 30 stores across Phnom Penh and surrounding provinces.
  • AEON’s second mall is slated for completion during the second quarter of 2018.
  • Meanwhile, Makro will open its first outlet in Cambodia by the end of 2017. It will be located in Sen Sok District.
  • Parkson Phnom Penh City Centre is scheduled for completion in 2017. This shopping centre will accommodate approximately 70,200 square metres of NLA.
  • Planned new shopping complexes developed by international firms, coupled with residential projects with significant retail components, are set to double the current supply of modern retail space in Phnom Penh by the end of 2018.
  • Following the success of TK Avenue, community malls are in vogue, with various projects announced or under construction, two of which are due for completion before 2018.
  • According to research conducted by CBRE, the top occupiers of shopping malls in Phnom Penh are Fashion & Accessories, Food & Beverages and Entertainment.
  • The expansion of Phnom Penh’s middle class acts as a key driver to the trend of international brands entering the city’s retail scene. Sustained demand, principally from Food & Beverage and Fashion & Entertainment retailers, is expected across 2017.
+ What residential areas are most popular with expatriates?
  • The traditionally expat-heavy area of BKK1 is being increasingly inundated with luxury residential developments with villas becoming sparse in the area.
  • Previously villas were a popular option for families however many of these have either been demolished and the land sold or converted into boutique hotels or restaurants.
  • Across Phnom Penh, the serviced apartment market continues to expand quickly.
  • The serviced apartments with 100 percent occupancy are those that provide the highest quality services and living standards.
  • When new, high-quality residential or commercial space becomes available, whether it’s condos or retail space, there are people who want to occupy these new offerings, as they have previously not existed.
  • Quality is in demand.
  • Upcoming areas include Russian Market and the west and south of the city.
  • These locations are very close to central Phnom Penh yet property remains considerably cheaper.
  • In addition, growing congestion and a lack of parking in the city centre is increasingly problematic.
  • A lack of unoccupied land plots coupled with historically high prices in central districts has caused developers to consider secondary locations. Of particular note is the city’s Sen Sok district where land prices rose 11.8 percent during the first quarter of 2017.
  • Tonle Bassac, BKK3 and Wat Phnom are also becoming increasingly popular with foreigners for similar reasons.
  • The Daun Penh and 7 Maraka districts are also seeing a huge amount of development.
  • Olympic City is seeing major developments, and the area around the new ISPP campus to the south of Phnom Penh is likewise becoming popular with expats.
  • Toul Kork is proving a popular option with wealthy Khmer families and is home to a number of spacious villas and several new condominium blocks.
  • Especially in outlying areas of the city such as Toul Kork, there has been a rise in gated community developments offering an alternative to the traditional villa.
  • Chroy Changvar is also seeing rapid development. The introduction of the Chinese bridge over the Tonle Sap increases the number of lanes from two to six, which should ease congestion and boost the potential clientele of businesses located on the other side of the river.
+ What variety of space is available for businesses?
  • There is everything available from shared workspaces for start-ups to Grade A office space such as Vattanac Tower.
  • In Phnom Penh, the office space sector is predominantly made up of Grade C offices.
  • Exchange Square, the second Grade-A office in Phnom Penh, was recently completed and added 18,000 sqm of office space to total supply figures, representing an increase of 5.8 percent in total supply for the second quarter of 2017 compared to the previous quarter.
  • TK Royal One, a Grade B building in Tuol Kork, is slated for completion by the end of the year. Other Grade B projects due to be finished by the end of 2018 include Downtown 93 (Chamkarmon), Fortune Tower (7 Makara) and East Commercial Centre (Chamkarmon).
  • The 22-storey Phnom Penh Tower and Canadia Tower are Grade B+ office buildings, offering a modern layout and finishings and quality fixtures. Office centres such as these are proving popular with international companies for the security and integrated facilities they offer.
  • Grade B standards are still high compared to the majority of offerings but fall below that of Grade A, usually in terms of location and facilities offered. The rental price is also reflected by the grade.
  • Several new Grade A office developments opened in recent years, including Vattanac Capital and GT Tower.
  • It is believed these developments will shape the future of Phnom Penh’s office landscape.
+ What’s new in the Phnom Penh retail properties marketplace?
  • On the 7th of August 2015, a well-known Japanese retailer announced the construction of Aeon Mall 2 within “Pong Peay City”. Scheduled to open in 2018, the project will encompass 70,500 square metres of Gross Leasable Area over a 10 hectare parcel of land. It will provide approximately 2,500 car parking bays and 2,000 motorbike spaces.
  • The new complex will target Cambodia’s higher-end consumers, but will also continue to cater to everyday shoppers, with a variety of international clothing and food and beverage brands.
  • When a new high-quality space becomes available, retailers previously uninterested in coming to Cambodia become interested, as there are viable spaces for them to locate their brand.
  • Every food retailer wants space on a corner in BKK1, then a corner in Tonle Bassac or Daun Penh.
  • Corners offer at least six to eight parking spaces. Parking is a real issue as more vehicles get on the road and more people move into popular areas.
  • Bigger brands also want to be on the street corners just over Monivong Bridge in Chbar Ampov. They’ve got to follow the market, and that’s where this younger Khmer middle-class is living. The traffic makes it hard for everyone to come into central Phnom Penh and retailers now understand they’re going to have to go to their market to succeed. A lot of that development is happening to the west and north, around Sen Sok and Phnom Penh Thmey, next to Tuol Kork.
  • Local and regional brands are taking an interest in Phnom Penh’s grocery sector. AEON opened its first premium stand-alone supermarket under the brand of AEON Maxvalu and has plan to expand to 30 stores across Phnom Penh and surrounding provinces.
  • Meanwhile, Makro will open its first outlet in Cambodia by the end of 2017. It will be located in Sen Sok District..
  • Parkson Phnom Penh City Centre is scheduled for completion in 2017. This shopping centre will accommodate approximately 70,200 square metres of NLA.
  • Planned new shopping complexes developed by international firms, coupled with residential projects with significant retail components, are set to double the current supply of modern retail space in Phnom Penh by the end of 2018.
  • Following the success of TK Avenue, community malls are in vogue, with various projects announced or under construction, two of which are due for completion before 2018.
  • According to research conducted by CBRE, the top occupiers of shopping malls in Phnom Penh are Fashion & Accessories, Food & Beverages and Entertainment.
  • The expansion of Phnom Penh’s middle class acts as a key driver to the trend of international brands entering the city’s retail scene. Sustained demand, principally from Food & Beverage and Fashion & Entertainment retailers, is expected across 2017.
  • Real Estate Top Tips
  • When setting up a business, finding the right residential and business premises is essential. We call on our industry insiders to share their knowledge of how to find the perfect place to house yourself and your company.
+ Location, location, location
  • While location is key for F&B businesses, prime spots in popular BKK1, which is saturated with restaurants and coffee shops, are being snapped up and rental prices rapidly rising.
  • Looking at outlying, off-the-map areas is recommended.
  • If you’re a destination business and people will come to you regardless, then you may not need to be in central town. If you are not – location may be crucial.
  • Look at BKK3 or Russian Market and pay significantly less, for instance.
  • Prices slump drastically when only moving marginally away from premium spots.
  • Rent prices in places like King’s Road and the Old Market are around $600 in Siem Reap, for instance. Just three kilometres away, they are $60.
+ Lease length
  • As landlords realise the potential of their property, lease lengths and rental conditions have also been tightened.
  • The power of negotiation has also been lessened.
  • Lease length is important to take into consideration if you plan on developing a new building on the leased land or making drastic alterations to current buildings.
+ Safe investments
  • Real estate is viewed as a safe investment over the long term, generally.
  • It is this, coupled with the rise in upmarket offerings that meet international standards, that have driven Cambodia’s property investment market.
  • And with more foreign investment expected from within the region as confidence in the market continues to grow, this is an area that is predicted to be active for the foreseeable future.
  • When it comes to investing in property, it’s advisable to recruit the help of reliable professionals who know the relevant laws and regulations of Cambodia.
  • Currently, there are no real estate related degrees offered in Cambodia and local expertise is limited.
  • Real estate legislation is also in its infancy and constantly evolving, with the law allowing the sale of individual units within condominium developments only being introduced in 2009 and the law on foreign ownership being amended in 2010.
  • You need a lawyer and qualified professionals to exercise the necessary due diligence to ensure peace of mind.
  • Evaluating the pros and cons and carrying out professional research into property investment potential is key.
  • A Guide To Property in Cambodia
  • How to find a property in the first place, what to look for when purchasing it and how to keep your title safe once you have bought it.
+ What’s the best way of finding a property in Cambodia?
  • A few years ago most property that was bought, sold or leased was found by word of mouth or signs posted outside.
  • In fact, many people still look for apartments and office space by simply driving around town looking for “For Rent” Property values and rent prices were assessed by the owners and were often so arbitrary that good value came through luck or a lengthy search.
  • Even with the advent of estate agents and valuers, purchase and rental prices can vary considerably for similar properties in similar areas.
  • Be careful of landlords assessing what you are worth, as opposed to what their property is worth.
  • For a newcomer, real estate agencies and their increasing array of websites are arguably the best resource for finding property and accommodation in Cambodia.
  • Real estate agents not only serve as a buffer between you and the landlord but can also be a great source of information for other things you may require to get settled.
  • A reputable company should be able to provide references from satisfied customers.
  • As well as the established agencies, locals often know of a friend or family member who for a fee, paid by either you or the landlord, will find available apartments or offices.
  • Keep in mind, all of these people will be paid in commission from the house owner for introducing you. If they are negotiating on your behalf, bare in mind they are set to benefit from a higher rent price.
+ Is it best to buy or lease property in Cambodia?
  • Property is the most valuable possession one can have in Cambodia, providing the chance to access additional services such as loans as you’re able to provide capital as security.
  • Cambodian law dictates that land can only be owned by a Cambodian citizen or a company in which at least 51% of the shares are owned by Cambodian citizens. Because of this, many companies simply lease property instead of purchasing, with land leases up to 99 years available.
  • The other way is to apply for Cambodian citizenship though this is an expensive exercise and you will need to demonstrate competence with the Khmer language as well as an understanding of Cambodian history and culture.
  • Foreigners can only own properties on the first floor or higher (not the ground floor), up to 70 percent of any one building, however this only applies to buildings with a strata title.
  • To legally own a property outright in Cambodia, that land must have a strata title regardless of whether it’s on the first floor or not, and regardless of whether a soft or hard title has been attained.
  • A strata title is a special type of hard title that allows an owner to divide a building into multiple individually saleable properties.
  • This is also known as the “condominium law”, as it is generally only granted to new condo buildings that are being built for this specific purpose.
  • Remember, if a strata title is not attained or unavailable, you will not be the owner of that property.
  • The law was introduced in a bid to boost the capital’s condominium market following the global economic crisis.
  • However, many estate agents have failed to pass on correct information and if a strata title does not exist on a property, a foreigner can only have up to 49% ownership.
  • The remainder must be under a Cambodian national’s name.
  • Long-term leases are common for large land plots where the occupier plans to build a permanent structure or use it for agriculture.
  • These can be for terms as long as 70 to 99 years but commercial sites such as pre-existing factories and warehouses will typically have lease terms of 5 to 10 years.
  • Rental prices continue to grow hand-in-hand with the capital’s swelling rental market. Also accompanying this growth is a decrease in negotiation power and lease length.
  • A 10 percent rental tax has cause landlords to increase rents to match, however, be aware that some have tried to raise the rent significantly more, so check the small print before signing a contract.
  • Leases for buildings typically run for 2 to 5 years with a reassessment of the terms upon expiration.
  • Given that property prices, and therefore rents, have tended to rise in recent years, you should factor into your budget a probable rent increase when the contract is up for renewal.
  • If you are planning on developing the land or buildings under lease – remember, your rent may rise dramatically in 5-10 years when you are due for renewal. This increases the risk of any investment into the property dramatically – and may limit investment of many new business owners.
  • When renting accommodation, leases vary widely and there does not tend to be an industry norm. This makes checking the deposit amount and what is included in the rent, such as WiFi, cleaning and laundry, are also important factors.
  • When you find something to your liking and begin negotiations, keep in mind this is essentially the same as shaking hands on the deal and the details just need to be worked out. If you negotiate a price and then say you need time to think about it that won’t be well received.
+ Tell me more about serviced apartments in Cambodia?
  • The serviced apartment and condominium market continues to expand and remains heavily driven by the number of foreigners wanting to invest in the capital.
  • Mirroring the boom in high-end office space offering, the capital’s luxury living is also on the rise.
  • As mentioned previously, the movement has been spawned by the shake-up to property purchasing laws, with De Castle Royal being the country’s first luxury condominium block.
  • Other developments recently completed include Olympia City, Embassy Residence, Platinum Bay and Times Square.
  • Casa by Meridian, Sky Tree Condo and The Bridge will be completed soon.
+ What taxes will I pay on property in Cambodia?
  • Renters and those leasing commercial space face a rental tax which has caused many landlords to increase rents.
  • Most have increased it to match the 10% tax but a few have tried to raise the rent significantly more, so check the small print before signing a contract. For more information, visit the website of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
+ How do I undertake property valuation in Cambodia?
  • Property valuation in Cambodia can at times be difficult to assess, as there is little transparent data available.
  • It is recommended that valuations, especially for larger assets and multi-million dollar transactions, are carried out by international valuers who comply with globally recognised standards set by governing bodies, such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
  • Some Cambodian banks still do in-house valuations when assessing new loans. This creates a conflict of interest as mortgage brokers are paid on commission.
  • Although, the industry is expecting the NBC to outlaw this practice in the near future, instead demanding all valuations are conducted by accredited independent appraisers.
  • Often in Cambodia the value is in the land rather than the building, especially with regard to older properties.
  • This is due to low construction and labour costs and, in many cases, the buyer wanting to demolish and develop on the existing land.
  • This leads to land price inflation—another reason why it is vital valuations are based on actual transactions, not speculation. In addition, always make sure the structural integrity of buildings is well assessed.
  • The age-old saying that ‘knowledge is power’ is ever apparent in a market that lacks transparency.
  • Accessing market data is extremely difficult as property records and statistics are not publicly available. Moreover, the accuracy of information received should always be questioned and sources cross-checked.
+ Hard verses soft property titles?
  • All land records were destroyed between 1975 and 1979. Consequently this led to a number of disputes over land after the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime, as proof of ownership was effectively impossible. In 1989, a Land Law was passed with a revised version being issued in 2001 that allowed private ownership of land.
  • Since then, more than two million land titles have been issued to Cambodians.
  • There are currently two types of land title documents that are issued in Cambodia: soft and hard titles.
  • A soft title is a possessory title issued by the village chief at the local communes and is not registered at national level, while a hard title is registered nationally with the Land Office and offers full ownership.
  • Hard titles contain detailed information that has been duly recognised and certified at a national level with the Ministry of Land and a cadastral office.
  • Soft titles often remain more popular, however, due to the avoidance of transfer tax, as when a hard title transaction occurs a four percent transfer tax is levied.
  • The majority of land in Cambodia comes under the soft title category, so if you want a hard title, employ the services of qualified legal specialists to ensure that is what you are getting.
  • Always conduct a title search with the relevant Ministry of Land Office or Commune Office before purchasing property. Such a search should confirm who holds the title to the property and reveal any registered mortgages or other encumbrances on the title.
  • Keep in mind, as buyer, you may not be given the actual title to conduct the search, because this is the seller’s only evidence of ownership. The buyer will instead get given a copy of the title, so it is important that you confirm that it is the most recent copy.
  • A titling system called LMAP (Land Management and Administration Project) has been introduced in Cambodia to improve land tenure security. Under the scheme, GPS coordinates are being registered for all land plots in the country.
  • In 2012, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen launched a huge operation when he tasked more than 1,600 student volunteers to help grant land titles to villagers by measuring the land in a new land titling scheme.
  • If you have an LMAP title, the borders have been agreed between neighbouring parties so all border disputes have been resolved. This is the safest type of title.
  • The government is playing a key role in order to get a lot of property on a hard title as it’s more transparent and secure; secure for the owner, and also secure for the bank when the owner finances through the bank.
  • Soft titles are insecure, because you can place your soft title with many financial institutions and get a loan, whereas you can only have one hard title to one property.
  • A well qualified, well connected lawyer should check for you, rather than checking yourself. It’s not that easy to check yourself if you don’t have the right connections or don’t speak the language.
Safety, Security & Insurance
Safety, Security & Insurance

This section provides an overview of security and safety issues in Cambodia, the range of security services and equipment on offer and a profile of the insurance industry and available services.

If you can’t find you’re answer here, please kindly contact ALPHA International Corporation Ltd.

+ What are the main safety issues I need to be aware of living in Cambodia?
  • The main safety issues in Cambodia mirror those that can be found in any country across the world.
  • In Phnom Penh and other urban centres there are cases of bag snatching, muggings and robberies, so it pays to be aware of your surroundings and avoid carrying valuable items or walking alone late at night in isolated areas.
  • Foreign women with handbags are particularly targeted.
  • Violent crime against foreigners is extremely rare. It is generally restricted to those who associate in dangerous areas of society or are in dangerous areas at the wrong times.
  • Cambodia is not a dangerous place, but risks are as high here as in regional countries.
  • Road safety is undoubtedly a major concern, with the country’s roads being the biggest killer.
  • Road safety issues are particularly prevalent at night when police patrols are scarce, and traffic laws are often not adhered to. Drink driving is also common in Cambodia, especially in the provinces, so it is advised to avoid night time driving when possible. The Cambodian Traffic Law came into force in 2015, in the hopes of regulating Cambodian road use and decreasing the Kingdom’s particularly high rate of road-related accidents. For more information on this see the legal and accounting section.
  • A recent trend, is an increase in house break-ins, which is symptomatic of the recent construction boom across Cambodia.
  • Construction workers are underpaid and know exactly how to break into houses—they even have the necessary tools. They have all day to surveil movements of houses next door to their construction site, determine the wealth of occupants, and assess access points.
  • As the rule of law is not enforced as stringently as in many other countries, you should not expect the same level of public police services as you would elsewhere.
  • This extends to the judicial system. If you are involved in an accident, keep in mind that the onus is on the individual to prove it was not deliberate.
  • However, quality insurance companies are there to assist in such situations and work to bring about a resolution.
+ Are there any recommended measures I should take to ensure my home is safe?
  • Houses and apartments are often surrounded by fences topped with razor wire or glass shards. These come equipped with sturdy metal doors, gates and locks.
  • Windows will often be covered with metal bars and many housing complexes come complete with 24/7 security.
  • Most businesses employ guards, although they are primarily there to watch over vehicles and help with parking.
  • Other security measures include alarms systems and card access control.
  • If you have one key, you may as well have 1000. Try to have only one point of entry to your home or business.
  • Keys are extremely easy to copy in Cambodia, and locks are easy to break.
  • House help and private security guards can represent a certain level of human risk as they assume positions of trust, yet may not attain a high enough salary to resist opportunist theft.
  • For those with the means, non-key personalised entry systems should avoid these issues, such as fingerprint or retina scanning systems, and cameras on main entry points.
  • Define your most “vital” security areas to protect, and then protect them.
+ What should I do if I’m a victim of crime?
  • If you are the victim of a crime, you should immediately contact your embassy or consulate.
  • The embassy should be able to provide you with help, including replacement of a stolen passport, getting medical attention, and connecting you with the relevant police services.
  • Call your embassy or a private security company at the beginning of your stay in Cambodia for a security brief related to your personal requirements.
  • In some cases, consular services are provided by another nation so, if your country has no embassy here, check with your government or a regional embassy in Bangkok or Singapore to see who you should contact.
+ How does rural Cambodian safety differ to the cities?
  • In the provinces car and motorcycle accidents are common, especially at night when many streets and vehicles are unlit and traffic rules tend to be disregarded.
  • It’s generally advisable not to travel by road at night in rural areas.
  • Despite the best efforts of the nation’s de-miners, some of the more remote areas still have landmines so it is advised not to go trekking without a guide and to always stick to well-worn tracks.
  • Western style medical clinics are few and far between and there are no ambulance services outside of the capital, injuries sustained in the provinces can be more threatening than those in urban areas take extra care and treat any wounds immediately.
+ Tell me more about Cambodian police departments
  • Since 2008, Neth Savouen has been Commissioner General of the Cambodian National Police force, which has about 64,000 officers.
  • Provincial Commissioners in Cambodia’s 23 provinces report to national headquarters at the Ministry of the Interior. The provinces are further divided into districts (khan), and communes (sangkat), each of which has its own police station, chief, and deputy chief.
  • The National Police is divided into six departments that take in security, transport, public safety, border control, administrative, and judicial.
  • Only judicial police are authorised to make arrests, but amendments to the Criminal Procedure law have extended this authority to ranking officers of other divisions, inspectors, civilian government officials, and the entire Gendarmerie.
  • Police authorised to make arrests can legally detain an adult suspect for up to 48 hours. The Department of Foreigners is responsible for all cases concerning non-citizens, including visa issues.
  • Military Police are also organised along the divisions of nation, province, Khan, and Sangkat, with a chain of command running down from the High Command of the Cambodian Armed Forces in Phnom Penh to the local Sangkat offices. Lieutenant-General Sao Sokha is the current commander of the Gendarmerie.
  • Protection of government properties and visiting international delegations is handled exclusively by the two police forces, with no assistance from the Private Security industry.
  • Lack of manpower and financial support can limit the reach of the Cambodian police, especially at night so they cannot always be solely relied on for assistance.
+ Is personal safety an issue in Cambodia?
  • While Cambodia is a relatively safe country, as with anywhere else in the world taking measures to stay safe is vital.
  • As the rule of law is not enforced as stringently as in many other countries, you should not expect the same level of public services as you would elsewhere.
  • This extends to the judicial system so if you find yourself involved in a dispute, whether personal or related to your business, it’s advisable to attempt to find a resolution outside of the court system or through an arbitrator. This alone is a big justification for purchasing local insurance as all providers are aware of the situation and claims are unlikely to get stuck in processing due to continual requests for more information or the lack of a police report.
  • If you are involved in an accident, keep in mind that the onus is on the individual to prove it was not deliberate. However, insurance companies are there to assist in such situations and work to bring about a resolution.
+ Are security services available in Cambodia?
  • Security guards are very popular in Cambodia, yet remain one of the least respected and lowest paid professions.
  • There are a large number of men, and increasingly women, employed by security companies, of which there are almost 100 in the country.
  • Often bedecked in blue, black or brown uniforms that resemble military fatigues, it is also not uncommon to find police officers moonlighting as guards.
  • Rates vary from company to company, but you can expect to pay around US$150 a month for a guard to work an eight hour a day, seven day a week shift.
  • One issue is that companies often underpay and undervalue guards in Cambodia and subsequently suffer the consequences of untrained, undisciplined and unloyal security personnel.
  • A guard company’s response policy in the event of a crime is very important.
  • Ask the security company you choose what the guard will do in the scenario of a break in, for example. Some will merely call the police, while others will take proactive steps to stop the crime.
  • It should be noted that security companies in Cambodia are forbidden by law to carry firearms. Armed police guards can be obtained from the Ministry of Interior, typically when the security company needs them to service clients such as financial institutions.
  • Each security company has a dedicated police liaison and these relationships offer mutual benefits.
  • Higher levels of security can be seen around Phnom Penh and Siem Reap near sensitive government offices and the homes of the elite and government members.
  • Roads will often be blocked off and a large police presence will become visible if the Prime Minister, the King or visiting international dignitaries are on the move.
  • Home and business security systems including safes, vaults, CCTV cameras, alarm systems, access control systems and other devices are also widely available, and many of the security service providers can also supply and install such equipment.
  • Some of the larger general security firms can also assist with data security, though there are numerous IT companies specialising in this area.
  • Any good security company will begin with a site survey, which generally includes an assessment, recommendation and assignment instructions for security staff.
  • This means security is never a one-size-fits-all affair, but rather that the services of a particular company are geared towards your needs.
  • These can include Manned Security Services (MSS), Electronic Security Services (ESS), Cash In Transit (CIT) and Facilities Security Services (FSS).
  • MSS includes guards, patrols and bodyguards. ESS includes electronic gates, Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV Security Cameras), and other measures.
  • FSS encompasses the other services that a company can offer including drivers, gardeners, cleaners, maintenance and so forth. As mentioned earlier, CIT involves the secure movement of cash or valuables from point to point in an armoured vehicle.
  • All licensed security companies are required to operate from the Ministry of Interior (MoI).
  • Safety, Security and Insurance Top Tips
  • ALPHA International Corporation call on our panel of experts to share what they have learnt about safety, security and insurance in Cambodia.
+ Expat insurance
  • Health insurance packages for individuals, families, and staff generally fall into two categories: hospitalisation only and hospitalisation including outpatient.
  • Almost all policies sold to expatriates cover medical evacuation to Bangkok or Singapore, with limits ranging from $500,000 to $1,000,000.
  • See the medical and pharmaceutical section for more info on health insurance options.
+ Staying safe
  • As mentioned, bag snatches and pick-pocketing are perennial problems, with thieves operating in crowded areas and at tourist attractions. A number of people being dragged off motos after thieves grabbed their bags or accosted at night by groups of locals and robbed have been reported recently.
  • You can minimise the risk by keeping valuables hidden, especially when walking or using a moto or tuk tuk.
  • Avoid using ATMs late at night and only carry with you what you’re prepared to lose.
  • If you live in a dark street, don’t travel home alone at night or, if you have to, take a taxi.
  • If someone tries to snatch or demands your possessions, it is safest to calmly hand over your belongings and avoid making eye contact with the attacker.
  • Avoid holding your phone up to your ear near the street as it can easily be snatched.
  • If you have barred windows on each floor make sure you have at least one escape trap on the bars and a hidden key on the inside of the wall, in case of fire.
  • There are many reasons for the high crime. Police are underpaid and lack resources to fight crime. There is a lack of real law enforcement, although the government has made great strides in countering corruption, it’s still a contributor to high crime.
  • Due to the scale of poverty, many homeless people are at times left with no choice but to choose crime in order to survive.
  • The minimum wage in Cambodia is one of the lowest in Asia. Alcohol and drugs are relatively cheap.
  • The disparity between the extreme wealthy and poor breeds jealousy, resentment and anger.
  • The boom in the construction business creates opportunities for poorly paid workers to access neighboring homes and offices. Workers know how to install windows and doors, and defeat them.
  • The most dangerous places in Cambodia are the nation’s highways. After 10 pm, traffic lights, rules and are disregarded by vehicle and motorcycle operators. This is due to a lack enforcement of traffic laws, and many suburban roads are in bad shape, without adequate lighting. Many of these roads are narrow, and in areas of high poverty where it is easy to stop vehicles or setup temporary road blocks to rob vehicle operators or their vehicles.
  • Few drivers have attended international driving schools. Many vehicles are poorly maintained, such as the many aging vans that deliver people and goods to and from the countryside. Accidents are common.
+ Security services
  • Security services are becoming ever more prevalent with gated communities on the rise. More advanced security systems are also being installed alongside security guards at most locations.
  • If you hire a security firm, be sure to check their credentials first.

Insurance in Cambodia
Cambodia’s insurance industry is rapidly expanding, with major international players entering the market.
Find out how to stay safe and the best ways to protect your health, home and business. And as Cambodians start to realise the benefits that investing in insurance can bring, this sector looks set to grow well into the future.

+ Is it recommended to get insurance in Cambodia?
  • Insurance is an essential element to ensuring peace of mind, with health insurance including medical evacuation highly recommended.
  • The insurance industry has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, experiencing huge growth as more international and local competitors enter the market. Packages are also available for travel, vehicle, home and business insurance. Brokers have also arrived, such as Gras Savoye International and the Australian-owned MGA Asia.
  • Recently, more international and local competitors are appearing, such as Manulife, Prudential and Cambodia Life Insurance. This year has seen the arrival of two international brokers: Gras Savoye International and MGA Asia.
  • Although Cambodia’s Insurance Law is currently under review, vehicle insurance is not currently required by law, making it all the more important for expats to invest in it.
  • Insurance is becoming more and more available and affordable.
  • Khmers are somewhat hesitant about the concept of insurance. Insurance is a relatively new concept to Cambodian culture as it was introduced less than 20 years ago. Cambodians had lost confidence in financial institutions after the war.
  • Another reason behind this is possibly that it sits in contrast to their Buddhist beliefs. By suggesting predicting that something bad could will happen, you could be ’re-evoking negative karma upon yourself.
  • This makes it difficult to market insurance.
  • Despite this, more Cambodians are realising the benefits investing in insurance can bring.
  • Most Khmer who appreciate insurance tend to be older, aged 35 or above. They increasingly know risks exist and they have enough assets that their risk is significant. Insurance gives peace of mind in protecting those assets. Insurance is increasingly being offered to current and prospective employees as part of an employment incentive.
+ Who regulates security and insurance in Cambodia?
  • The Cambodian Ministry of the Interior (MOI) licenses private security companies and they also supply armed bodyguards to the security companies.
  • The Law of Insurance and the Ministry of Economics and Finance (MEF) and the National Bureau of Insurance (NBI) regulates insurance.
  • There is also the General Insurance Association of Cambodia (GIAC) whose members include Caminco (which is now wholly owned by the Royal Government of Cambodia), Forte Insurance, Asia Insurance, Infinity Insurance and Campu Lonpac Insurance.
+ What insurance services do I need?
  • Insurance is an essential element to business in Cambodia – as Cambodia’s economy continues to grow, the investment in both assets and people need to be insured to ensure ongoing viability of business.
  • Choosing the right insurance company and policies can help reduce the risks to your business or person.
  • There are three main types of insurance for any foreigner living in Cambodia: property insurance, vehicle insurance, and health insurance for hospital and evacuation.
  • Given the state of health care in Cambodia, health insurance, including medical evacuation, is highly recommended. Health insurance is increasingly being offered to current and prospective employees as an employment incentive. This is also beneficial for companies as it can reduce downtime. If the employer is giving employees a good health product then they know that their employees are going to get reasonable care in the clinic and perhaps will only be off work for one to two days instead of three or four.
  • Properties can be insured up to the cost of construction by owners or renters.
  • The majority of companies in Cambodia invest in property insurance so, for example, if the business is a manufacturing factory then this would protect them against the danger of fire and flooding.
  • Taking out property insurance if you’re renting, unless it’s written in your lease agreement that you are not responsible for damages to the house, is wise also. These documents are typically very small, and may be unclear about the liability for damage to the building.
  • Take note that a new Fire Tariff, introduced in July 2014, regulates not only the pricing but coverage on any property risk up to $10 million for any one location. As a result, many companies have been surprised to see significant increases in their premium for this class of insurance. Thankfully it is a class of business which does not normally have a high frequency of losses, however, when a fire happens it can be severe enough to financially cripple the business if no insurance is in place. Of equal importance to having fire insurance, is to know about the security behind the insurer: Does the insurer have a panel of reinsurers that are financially rated ‘A’ or better by Standard and Poors or Bests?
  • General insurance is available from a number of domestic and international firms. Policies cover a broad spectrum of risk including fire; automobile; health; home; group personal accident; public, professional and product liability; theft; trip; marine cargo; and electronic equipment, industrial and building risks.
  • According to Cambodian law, any registered company must have insurance from a locally-registered insurance company but many companies still purchase premiums from abroad.
  • There are several laws and prakas governed by the Ministry of Economy and Finance that determine or limit the liability of parties involved, though in terms of automobile accidents foreigners are likely to have to pay for any damages.
  • Car insurance is provided by local companies and will only cover a maximum of $10,000 worth of own damage or $100,000 to third parties. A new law being mooted by the Government would mean all private car owners must have a minimum of third-party liability insurance.
  • Currently, only commercial vehicles are required by law to have third-party liability insurance.
  • While the new Traffic Law is entering into force, there remains no expectation that a claim can be denied if the law was broken. Until laws are enforced effectively and without bias, this may remain the case throughout the industry.
  • Cambodia now also has its own life insurance business. The first provider, Camlife, is now owned by Cambodia’s largest conglomerate, the Royal Group. Manulife and Prudential Assurance are two major international firms that have recognised the potential in the Cambodian marketplace and established wholly-owned subsidiaries here.
  • Camlife, Manulife and Prudential offer traditional life insurance policies as well as combined protection and savings plans.
+ What do I need to know about corporate healthcare and group personal accident insurance?
  • When choosing corporate healthcare packages for employees, costs can vary between expat and local staff.
  • The range of premiums between locals and expats is significant, with most locals having an annual premium between $75 to $200 with no evacuation cover and limited access to neighboring countries.
  • Meanwhile, expats can expect to pay over $1,000, however, this often covers evacuation expenses and access to medical facilities in other countries.
  • Some companies offers a cashless health insurance claim system which means no payment is necessary at the time of treatment.
  • This is important when insuring local staff who may not have the cash available to pay clinic fees at short notice.
  • Group Personal Accident policies are becoming increasingly popular for companies wishing to insure staff.
  • This only covers accidents, not sickness, and the maximum payout is low, but it is available for only a few dollars per employee, per month.
+ Are there options for pensions in Cambodia?
  • Thinking of your future is important wherever you are in the world and financial security plays an important role.
  • Both corporate and individual pension plans are available in Cambodia. And with certain companies offering options to transfer policies if clients move country, investing in the future is worthwhile.
  • There are several companies in Cambodia that offer pension plans, with proof of identification and address generally being the only documents needed to complete the pension process.
  • Proof of identification and address is needed to complete the pension process.
Transportation & Logistics
Transportation & Logistics

This section provides an overview of the transportation and logistics sector in Cambodia, and the range of freight services and equipment currently available.

Cambodia is quickly bringing its transport and logistics infrastructure up to international standards. With major road works and infrastructural projects underway, and international-standard transport and logistics companies bringing world-class services to the country, there’s no shortage of options to get you or your products from A to B. In this issue, the industry experts share their view about the industry as it stands today, they look at the best ways to ship goods in, out and around the country, and they gaze ahead at developments in the pipeline and the future of the industry in Cambodia.

If you can’t find you’re answer here, please kindly contact ALPHA International Corporation Ltd.

+ What modes of transport operate in Cambodia?
  • Cambodia is served by most major forms of transportation, with the internal rail network and domestic flights currently being the weakness links in the Kingdom’s connections.
  • Roads and rivers, ports and border crossings have all been expanding in recent years to accommodate the growing need of Cambodia’s economy and its increasing population.
  • The most popular way to travel domestically is by bus or minivan, with internal flights connecting the capital, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap.
+ Will the expected introduction of new domestic airlines on the cards affect the transportation markets in Cambodia?
  • The introduction of new domestic airlines will inevitably drive down air freight prices and increase flight frequency.
  • Logistically, Air freight is a better service as it is faster than sea and generally safer.
  • However, air freight is still considerably more expensive and has far less capacity so currently it’s really only useful for certain kinds of products going to specific destinations.
+ What operational sea ports exist in Cambodia?
  • Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh are Cambodia’s two largest international ports, covering general import and export requirements, along with all the necessary services, including full customs and warehousing services.
  • Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (SAP) has the greatest capacity due to its deep-sea port and direct feeder capacity to Singapore and other larger ports.
  • “Feeder vessels” loaded at Sihanoukville then travel to regional hubs where cargo is loaded onto a larger ship, known as the “mother vessel”, and transported to its final destination.
  • However, the Port Authority has recently announced that SAP will undergo vast modifications, making it deep enough to host mother vessels as soon as 2020.
  • This expansion will lower costs of international freight to and from Cambodia, and increase efficiencies significantly. SAP has also announced plans to launch itself on the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX), using its IPO as a means to fund these expansion plans.
  • Phnom Penh Autonomous Port (PPAP) and its subsidiary dry port has emerged as a valid alternative to Sihanoukville.
  • However, container shipping is unavailable at this port due the limited water level of the Mekong river. As Phnom Penh is a river port, freight must go to Vietnam via barge before being transported to another deep sea port for further transportation.
  • However, after the construction of the new Container Terminal at Kandal Province, PPAP is taking bigger and bigger slice of the whole containerised market share, expecting to edge up to 33%, a 4% increase compared to 2015. In 201, PAS is predicted to be 48%, down from 54% in 2015.
  • The choice of which port to use will always relate to the desired routing of the freight in question.
  • In terms of freight handling, both ports have capability and capacity to handle almost the same types of commodity including containerised, general cargo and passenger. However, PAS is more advanced in handling OIL freight owing to its dedicated OIL terminal, as well its proximity to the OIL exploration area. PPAP has quite a number of short term projects to increase its capability to service agricultural products more effectively due to its strategic hinterland connection location.
  • However, any kind of bulk cargo and heavy project cargo would likely need to go through Sihanoukville due to its additional capacity.
  • This means any shipments of bulk or heavy cargo from Phnom Penh must typically be trucked by road to the port in Sihanoukville (about 230km).
  • Shipping costs are currently amongst the highest in the Indo-China region, especially compared to economical rivals such as Vietnam and Thailand.
  • During a recent rice tender export to the Philippines, the overall export cost from Cambodia was found to be at least 8% higher than both Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Mediocre infrastructures, limited service providers’ capacity, lack of knowledge and know-how, lack of connectivity between ports, warehouses and transport lanes add to the problems and costs.
+ What major changes have taken place within the industry in the last few years?
  • In the last four to five years, there has been a huge trade growth in Cambodia, with the containerised export market to Europe and USA increasing by almost 20% for 2013.
  • It is estimated this area will continue to grow with predictions for 2014 showing export to the Pacific and European markets will increase by 8%.
  • A range of positive administrative and procedural changes have taken place at Sihanoukville port recently. This has led to a more consistent and predictable timetable, a move towards more international standards of quality of service and efficiency and predictability.
  • Cosco and China Shipping have offices planned in Sihanoukville, and will hopefully make shipping freight between Cambodia and China direct.
  • However, the overall port handling cost in Cambodia is still relatively higher than other neighbouring countries.
  • Cambodia’s infrastructure continues to improve thanks to road improvements on many of the national roads. This looks set to improve further with work proposed to be complete on upgrading the road from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap in 2015.
  • The introduction of the Kien Svay sea port in Kandal Province and the launch of the Toll Royal Railway service that links Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville have also helped boost the transportation and logistics sectors.
  • A commercial train service linking Cambodia’s two ports at Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville was first launched in 2013 with help from the Australian government and Asian Development Bank. The line between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville is now fully operational, however, it is underutilized.
  • Toll Royal Railway (TRR), part of the Royal Group, is the new owner and operator.
  • Rice and other heavy cargoes are particularly suited to rail freight as they are generally not wanted by trucking companies. For anything lighter, such as garments, the hassle of transfer to rail at the start and the end of the journey negates any benefit beyond direct cross country trucking.
  • Recently, applications requesting repairs to the northern rail line from Phnom Penh to Poipet at the Thai border have been made by TRR to the Cambodian Government.
  • While no decision has been made regarding these requests as of yet, given that the opposite rail line inside Thailand already links to Bangkok from Poipet, there is a real possibility of a direct rail line between Phnom Penh and Bangkok in the not so distant future.
  • The introduction of ASYCUDA computerized system used for goods clearing process, as well for managing trade statistics, was already an undeniable great initiative from the government to support the trade growth and enforce trade compliance.
  • In addition, the setup of the different project teams to develop templates, customs procedures, instructions and other legal instruments has seen as a critical enabler for investors and traders to change their investment perception of Cambodia.
Cambodian Transport Top Tips

Here, we ask our panel of experts to share their top tips in the transportation and logistics sectors.
+ Plain sailing
  • Shipping to and from Cambodia remains relatively cheap, especially from the Kingdom to China, yet you need to consider the quality of the service and the resulting delivery.
  • In order to cope with the growth and more demanding customers in this highly competitive markets, shipping companies need to continue to focus not only on basic requirements, including containers or vessel space but also on the soft element of the services, such as e-commerce.
  • Competitive cost and economy of scale plays the vital role, which can be a challenge when operating in Cambodia as it is a relatively small market.
+ Safe moves
  • Moving personal items in or out of Cambodia is simple thanks to a range of relocation services.
  • A key factor to remember is to have the right documents in advance and to purchase insurance against theft or damage.
  • It’s a lot easier to relocate to Cambodia now than it was a few years ago.
  • Historically, those looking to work or stay here for any lengthy period of time, would tend to arrive with a few suitcases and get on with it. But as the shift of people arriving becomes more business focused they are coming with much, much more.
  • This has led to more services launching.
  • Many removal companies begin to offer self-storage facilities, something that is not available in abundance in Phnom Penh.
  • Moving stuff in Cambodia
  • Everything you need about transporting people, products and anything else you can imagine in, out and around Cambodia.
+ What passenger transport services exist in Cambodia?
  • Most people arrive into Cambodia either by air or by road, though it’s also possible to arrive by boat from Vietnam, crossing the border at Chau Doc.
  • In all cases, passengers must immediately proceed through passport control, immigration and customs.
  • This is a relatively easy process, especially if arriving by air as both tourist and business visas can easily be bought upon arrival at either of the country’s international airports.
  • Customs procedures are similar to neighbouring countries, involving a form asking if you have anything to declare including cash (or other financial instruments) to a value in excess of $10,000, plants, animals, electronic equipment and so forth. Those visitors who arrive by boat are required to land before going through passport control.
  • Most people travel around Cambodia by road, either in buses, taxis, cars or motorcycles – a fairly inexpensive way of travelling. There are now ways to hail and book short rides around urban centres via your mobile device. iTsumo is a free mobile app available for Android and iOS offering remarkably cheap fares by connecting you to vehicles owners wanting to earn money from driving.
  • River transport is for the most part constrained to ferry crossings, though there is a daily service between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
+ What commercial train services exist in Cambodia?
  • A commercial train service linking Cambodia’s two ports at Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville was first launched in 2013 with help from the Australian government and Asian Development Bank.
  • The line between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville is now fully operational, however, it is underutilized.
  • Toll Royal Railway (TRR), part of the Royal Group, is the new owner and operator.
  • Rice and other heavy cargoes are particularly suited to rail freight as they are generally not wanted by trucking companies. For anything lighter, such as garments, the hassle of transfer to rail at the start and the end of the journey negates any benefit beyond direct cross country trucking.
  • Recently, applications requesting repairs to the northern rail line from Phnom Penh to Poipet at the Thai border have been made by TRR to the Cambodian Government.
  • While no decision has been made regarding these requests as of yet, given that the opposite rail line inside Thailand already links to Bangkok from Poipet, there is a real possibility of a direct rail line between Phnom Penh and Bangkok in the not so distant future.
+ What relocation services are available in Cambodia?
  • A professional relocation service can help you navigate the administrative burden when moving your business, home and possessions to Cambodia.
  • And relocating to the Kingdom couldn’t be easier, thanks to improved services and shorter waiting period for goods to be delivered. It now takes between five and seven days to transport goods from the port to a customer’s house, compared with 10 to 14 days two years ago.
  • With the right (easily obtained) documents, as well as for NGO and government workers, it has never been easier to bring your home and personal effects with you when you relocate to the Kingdom.
  • Moving personal items in or out of Cambodia is simple thanks to a range of relocation services.
  • Tax and duty-free privileges are available for personal shippers.
  • Complete freight services (CFS) are offered by various forwarders which include all parts of the relocation service within a single package deal.
  • These CFS packages can include sea freight service and/or air freight service, inland delivery across borders, plus cargo packaging, crating and loading/unloading services.
  • When utilising these services, it is important to obtain the right documents in advance and to purchase insurance against theft or damage.
+ Will anyone move my pets in Cambodia?
  • Pets are part of the family and many want to bring them along on their new adventure.
  • However, permission from the local authority in Cambodia must be attained before the arrival of your pet to any Cambodian airport. Therefore, documentation of clearance is required before your pet is sent to Cambodia. This is available from the Ministry of Agriculture. Exporting a pet from Cambodia to another destination will also require proactive permissions such as this.
+ Are freight forwarding services available in Cambodia?
  • Freight forwarders work with three types of transport companies in Cambodia: land, sea and air.
  • A freight forwarder doesn’t own their own equipment.
  • Rather, they organise transport of goods with the transport company, whether shipper, trucker, airline or a combination of the three. They also handle port handlers and customs service providers.
  • Many of these firms are members of Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association (CAMFFA), an association whose mission includes bringing local freight forwarding activities towards international standards.
+ How do freight forwarding services work in Cambodia?
  • Businesses needing to transport goods into or out of Cambodia are well served, as Cambodia has a well-developed logistics and freight forwarding industry.
  • While “International Freight Forwarding” is a clearly understood term in English, it doesn’t translate very well into Khmer, instead becoming “commission agent for transport” which can lead to some misunderstandings.
  • Nevertheless, such businesses have operated in Cambodia since at least 1996.
  • Initially the industry was focused on the garment and footwear industries, and continues to be mainly export-oriented to this day.
  • Today there are over 150 businesses operating in the sector, of which around 40 are members of CAMFFA, an association set up in 2004 whose mission includes bringing local freight forwarding activities towards international standards.
  • Freight forwarders historically dealt with just one of three types of transport companies (land, sea or air) but nowadays tend to work with all three. A freight forwarder doesn’t own his own equipment but instead organises transport of goods in combination with the transport company, whether shipper, trucker, airline or a combination of the three.
  • They will purchase services from these companies, as well as the port handlers and customs service providers, and will combine these into a package and provide a quote to the end user. Cambodia currently has two operational ports, the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port (PPAP) on the Tonle Sap river in the centre of the capital, and Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (SAP), a deep sea port on the south coast.
  • SAP can accept ships up to 10–15,000 dead weight tonnage (dwt) while the PPAP, accessible from Vietnam, can accept ships up to 5,000 dwt. PPAP is only able to handle a maximum of three barges at one time and the amount of cargo it can handle is reduced during the dry season when the level of the river drops substantially.
  • Given the limited capacity of the existing port, a new, larger port of 180 hectares opened in January 2013 at Kien Svay on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The new port is, of course, much larger but will reach capacity very quickly.
  • The new terminal, which cost more than $28 million, plays a vital role in coping with the increase in cargo received at the country’s ports. In 2008, 47,507 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) were processed at the old port. This dropped to 43,312 TEUs in 2009, something that was put down to the global economic crisis. It rose to 81,631 in 2010 and hit 95,333 TEUs in 2012.
  • It is estimated that in the first year of operation, the port will handle 120,000 TEUs.
  • Shipping containers come in two main sizes, 20ft (approx. 1,100Ft3 / 30M3) and 40ft (2,200Ft3 / 60M3), although 40ft High Cube (70M3) containers are also available.
  • 45ft containers are less common in South East Asia but may be available where large volumes of shipments to and from the USA are handled.
  • The difference between the old Phnom Penh port and the new Phnom Port in Kien Svay is the size. Kien Svay is much bigger than the old Phnom Penh port and serves in the same way as the old Phnom Penh port shipments via the river to Vietnam, connecting there to the USA and Europe.
  • It’s good for the industry to have competition between Kien Svan and Sihanoukville.
  • Goods shipped internationally (to Europe or the USA for instance) will depart from the port at Sihanoukville in a “feeder vessel” (of which there are three operators) to regional hubs in Malaysia or Singapore, from where they are loaded onto a larger ship, known as the “mother vessel”, and transported to their final destination.
  • The feeder vessels typically take three days to reach Singapore from Sihanoukville, and the ships take around 21 days to reach Europe. It’s worth noting that, given the limited capacity of the feeder vessels, shipments into and out of Cambodia can be delayed during especially busy periods.
  • Shipments from Phnom Penh are typically trucked by road to the port in Sihanoukville (about 230km), though in some cases they can be put on a barge to Caimep in Vietnam from where they are transferred to a container ship and shipped onward to the final destination.
  • Whenever considering shipping out goods and cargo through the Phnom Penh Port remember it will require some forward planning as the city’s port authorities do not operate on the weekend. What this means for you is that any shipments will need to be packed and at the port at the latest by Wednesday, then allowing for any of the required paperwork to be completed and processed on Thursday, and the shipment to be loaded on to the carrier and sent onward down the Mekong River on Friday.
  • Phnom Penh has become a very viable alternative to Sihanoukville port, though of course its capacity is far smaller than its coastal alternative. Whereas Phnom Penh port is geographically closer to businesses operating in the capital, the total transit time may still be quicker going via Sihanoukville due to its longer working week.
  • Shipments to and from neighbouring countries can be made by road, entering and leaving via the borders with Vietnam or Thailand. Trucking across land borders is common and there’s no problem whatsoever to arrange trucking from Thailand or Vietnam to Cambodia.
  • Products made in factories in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Bavet on the Vietnamese border are often trucked across the border to Ho Chi Minh City, where they are transferred to a mother vessel for shipment to their final destination.
  • At the Thai border, goods will need to be “transloaded” from the Cambodian truck to the Thai (or vice-versa). One of the problems is that there’s no standardisation of equipment between the two countries, so trucks will frequently use different trailers with different heights.
  • Businesses requiring chilled transport should note that cold storage containers are typically not readily available in Cambodia. Customers may need to make special arrangements with the shipping line to bring in empty containers, adding to the overall shipping cost.
  • Most goods moved around Cambodia, in large quantities, are transported with lorries, given the limited reach of barges, trains and aircraft. Smaller quantities of goods are moved by small trucks or vans, cars and even motorcycles.
  • Many firms are available to help with local deliveries, and they range in size from family run operations with one or two vehicles to sizeable firms with larger fleets.
  • The “blue trucks” mentioned earlier in this section are a popular choice for people moving fairly small quantities around town, such as the contents of a small apartment.
  • Flyers for these services are posted around town, or you can ask your landlord to recommend a particular service.
  • Many of the freight forwarders engaged in international transport also offer domestic transport services, which is a worthwhile consideration especially if you have larger quantities of goods to transport. Many import and export businesses have set up in Cambodia in recent years because of the duty free offered on export from the country to Europe and the US.
+ What are customs, export and import taxes like in Cambodia?
  • Most freight forwarders operating in Cambodia will take care of customs duties in the case of large freight shipments.
  • Many Special Economic Zones also have built-in customs stations, meaning checks and duties can be handled before the goods arrive at ports of export.
  • It is important that the company or agent you use is able to walk you through the details, regardless of the size of your shipment.
  • Each type of port has its own procedures that must be followed, though they will require the following: a customs declaration, invoice, packing list, and possibly other forms. It is important these documents are all in good order to avoid any of the difficulties mentioned previously.
  • The process is quite likely to include the following steps: the submission of import documents, registration of manifest and customs declaration, verifying of documents and declaration, calculation and payment of duties, and a random inspection. Fees for ocean freight, air freight and origin charges are dependent on the terms of shipping—this is the same for any destination charges.
  • The enforcement of import and export tax collection has become more stringent in the past year following anti-corruption reforms. This tightening has led to a clampdown on illegal trading at all national entry points. Nevertheless, this should represent no issues for companies who operate legitimately.
  • EDI has also taken over much of the manual inputs with regard to shipping procedures. This has helped improve the process with systems being more sophisticated and now at the same level as other countries across Asia.
  • More than $360 million in revenues for the national budget was collected by the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) during the first quarter of 2015. According to the department’s statement last week, this marks a 13 per cent increase year-on-year.
  • It is suggested that the growth has come about due to reforms carried out by the Government demanding compliance. The statement attributes the rise in revenues to: “enforcing implementation of the rules, curbing illegal smuggling, and improving the import-export paperwork.”
  • Cambodia’s total imports rose to $10.5 billion in 2014. Meanwhile, total exports stood at $7.7 billion.
  • In 2014, the GDCE collected $1.34 billion in customs and levies on goods, and in 2015 there was a nearly 34 per cent rise from $1 billion.
  • But the opposition party have suggested despite this improvement, there are still widespread issues of corruption: illegal smuggling and custom’s officers taking bribes. The improvement may mark a strengthening economy overall as much as it does strengthened compliance methods.
+ What is the state of postal and courier services in Cambodia?
  • Cambodia has a public postal system run by the government, though the reach of its service is limited to the major cities in each province and destinations located on the roads connecting them.
  • The lack of a consistent street address system and post boxes further limits mail delivery. To counter this many people recommend getting a post office box at Phnom Penh’s main post office, located at the corner of Streets 102 and 13.
  • Be aware that should you receive a package from overseas, you may be liable to pay duties on it if you have to collect it at the airport. Take note also that, even if the items are for personal use, the amount of duty payable is likely to be based not on the intrinsic value of the items, but on what they are and what their perceived use is.
  • Cambodia Post is said not to have the ability to track packages and letters within the country, so once something reaches the Kingdom it is to all extents and purposes invisible until you receive notice from the Post Office of its arrival.
  • Many people opt to combat this problem by visiting the post office and to check at the appropriate counter whether their package has arrived, though this can be time-consuming especially if the shipment is delayed in transit and you have to make several visits before it finally arrives.
  • Alternatively ask the post office to let you have the telephone number of the local delivery agent in your area, though you will more than likely need a Khmer speaker to communicate with them. Packages intended for your personal use may of course be shipped to your place of work if it’s easier for the postman to find.
  • Cambodia Post has begun to work with Express Mail Service (EMS – an international express postal service offered by the Universal Postal Union and part of the United Nations) to provide better services backed by the latest technology. EMS shares locations with Cambodia Post and can be found throughout the country in the provincial capitals as well as at the main post office in Phnom Penh.
  • Nevertheless, many people complain of slow delivery times with packages taking from three weeks to six months to arrive, if they arrive at all.
  • You can send letters and parcels from the main post office in Phnom Penh, using the regular mail service or EMS, though be sure to check that the teller has in fact stamped or franked the envelope before you pay the fee.
  • While the outbound postal service is generally quite reliable, it can be very slow and for urgent or important documents or packages a courier service will a be much more efficient option.
  • There are international courier services operating in the country, with DHL Express Cambodia being the main player in the market.
  • It can be cheaper to use a local courier when sending a parcel overseas, as they will link up with one of the larger operators but offer a better price than if you go direct to the main operator. Bear in mind, however, that many of the major courier services will only handle packages worth less than US$300 due to possibility of graft, so be careful to ensure that you are complying with the relevant legislation.
  • Many courier services also provide value added services such as customs clearance for your parcel, as well as tax exemption formalities and warehousing facilities should your circumstances require them.
+ What custom duties am I liable for while importing into Cambodia?
  • Most freight forwarders operating in Cambodia will take care of customs duties in the case of large freight shipments.
  • It is important that the company or agent you use is able to walk you through the details, regardless of the size of your shipment.
  • The GDCE does not state how it determines whether imports are for personal or commercial use, and the authorities are often suspicious of any shipments marked as personal effects. This may lead to difficulties when dealing with the authorities.
  • Each type of port has its own procedures that must be followed, though they will require the following: a customs declaration, invoice, packing list, and other forms, if any. It is important these documents are all in good order to avoid any of the difficulties mentioned previously.
  • The process is quite likely to include the following steps: the submission of import documents; registration of manifest and customs declaration; verifying of documents and declaration; calculation and payment of duties; random inspection.
  • A full explanation of the import processes can be found online at the website of the General Department of Customs and Excise.
+ Are storage facilities available in Cambodia?
  • Warehousing services are increasingly being offered by freight forwarding companies.
  • Consolidation Freight Stations (CFS) are also useful for receiving, storing, packing and releasing goods as per requirements.
  • Cambodia has quite a number of small warehouses available.
  • However, standards vary and there is no benchmark in terms of proper warehousing facilities.
  • Don’t expect to see western style garage storage facilities just yet.
  • These standards will continue to improve in light of a steadily increasing demand for domestic storage.
Key Industries
Key Industries

Cambodia saw solid growth during 2014, with GDP increasing by 7 percent. This growth is expected to trend upwards, with growth of 7.3 percent projected for 2015 and 7.5 percent for 2016, according to the Asian Development Bank. This strong performance is being largely driven by the continual expansion of the Kingdom’s key industries.

One of Cambodia’s key industries, the export of garments and footwear, reached $6 billion in 2014, an increase of 10.7 percent on the previous year. Other key industries such as light manufacturing, tourism and agriculture also experienced positive growth. In this issue, we talk to our panel of industry insiders about the progress of Cambodia’s key industries, the outlook for the future, and the impact of Special Economic Zones.

Read on to learn about the progress of Cambodia’s key industries, the outlook for the future, and the impact of Special Economic Zones.

+ What growth are Cambodian key industries experiencing?
  • Cambodia saw solid growth during 2014, with GDP increasing by 7 percent.
  • This growth is expected to trend upwards, with growth of 7.3 percent projected for 2015 and 7.5 percent for 2016, according to the Asian Development Bank.
  • This strong performance is largely being driven by the continual expansion of the Kingdom’s key industries.
  • One of Cambodia’s key industries, the export of garments and footwear, reached $6 billion in 2014, an increase of 10.7 percent on the previous year.
  • Other key industries such as light manufacturing, tourism and agriculture also experienced positive growth.
+ Tell me more about the garment manufacturing industry?
  • Growth in the garment sector is a significant success story for Cambodia’s recent economic development.
  • While the dominance of the garment industry is shrinking alongside new growth industries, garments and footwear production still represented 71 percent of total Cambodian exports in 2014, according to ANZ’s 2014 Global and Regional Outlook in Phnom Penh report.
  • As a result of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) “Better Factories Cambodia” social compliance programme and various Government reforms, the minimum wage has been increased and recent talks even suggest a new rent ceiling and employment benefits assurance for garment workers will be enacted in coming reforms.
  • The most respectable brands demand full and diligent audits on the factories they source from and try their best to ensure that these factories live up to the brands own corporate social responsibility policies too. However, not all do.
  • The labour and technology efficiencies are lower in Cambodia than in other established garment markets, such as Vietnam and China, but still the labour pool is younger, larger and lower-cost here. Training is part and parcel of operating in Cambodia, however, and specialised training must be accorded into predicted operations costs.
  • Cambodia also relies on imports for textile raw material—predominantly from China, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan. Potential investors might consider opening a factory in areas other than the traditional epicentres located in outer Phnom Penh.
  • Areas closer to the Thai or Vietnamese borders offer better access to a new labour pool of Cambodians rather than the currently oversaturated labour market located around Phnom Penh.
  • Likewise, Special Economic Zones, especially those located close to ports of export, offer advantages for setting up efficient garment production factories.
  • Always ensure any factory and its management are reliable and responsible before agreeing to any production contract -So many contracts fall down based on poor relationships between buyers, sellers and producers. To be sure, find an expert sourcer to seek the ideal factory for your needs.
+ Tell me more about the construction industry in Cambodia?
  • Growth in the garment sector is a significant success story for Cambodia’s recent economic development.
  • While the dominance of the garment industry is shrinking alongside new growth industries, garments and footwear production still represented 71 percent of total Cambodian exports in 2014, according to ANZ’s 2014 Global and Regional Outlook in Phnom Penh report.
  • As a result of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) “Better Factories Cambodia” social compliance programme and various Government reforms, the minimum wage has been increased and recent talks even suggest a new rent ceiling and employment benefits assurance for garment workers will be enacted in coming reforms.
  • The most respectable brands demand full and diligent audits on the factories they source from and try their best to ensure that these factories live up to the brands own corporate social responsibility policies too. However, not all do.
  • The labour and technology efficiencies are lower in Cambodia than in other established garment markets, such as Vietnam and China, but still the labour pool is younger, larger and lower-cost here. Training is part and parcel of operating in Cambodia, however, and specialised training must be accorded into predicted operations costs.
  • Cambodia also relies on imports for textile raw material—predominantly from China, Taiwan, Vietnam, South Korea and Japan. Potential investors might consider opening a factory in areas other than the traditional epicentres located in outer Phnom Penh.
  • Areas closer to the Thai or Vietnamese borders offer better access to a new labour pool of Cambodians rather than the currently oversaturated labour market located around Phnom Penh.
  • Likewise, Special Economic Zones, especially those located close to ports of export, offer advantages for setting up efficient garment production factories.
  • Always ensure any factory and its management are reliable and responsible before agreeing to any production contract -So many contracts fall down based on poor relationships between buyers, sellers and producers. To be sure, find an expert sourcer to seek the ideal factory for your needs.
+ Tell me more about the light manufacturing Assembly industry in Cambodia?
  • According to the ANZ report, exports are slowly moving away from traditional shipments of low value-added production. Although clothing, textiles, and shoes still make up almost three quarters of total exports, the share of ‘other’ items has risen to 19.5 percent in 2014, up from less than one percent in 2004.
  • Low costs of labour make Cambodia attractive for the labour intensive stages of light manufacturing production tasks including wire harnessing, producing parts for digital information appliances, chassis and auto body components, bicycle manufacture, and even gemstone polishing.
  • Increasingly, global companies are outsourcing these parts of the production process to Cambodia, especially to SEZs.
  • Still, most components, parts and raw materials are sourced from neighbouring countries including Thailand, Vietnam, China and Malaysia.
  • Cambodia’s light manufacturing assembly sector, located primarily but not exclusively in special economic zones, covers principally labour intensive operations.
  • This includes in bicycle manufacturing, electronics and electronic manufacturing and assembly, and a mix of other light manufacturing products.
  • Global light manufacturing trade in electrical and electrical equipment was worth approximately $2.3 million in 2012.
  • In 2013, Cambodia’s bicycle exports showed a 55% increase to 1.8 million making it the second largest exporter to Europe after Taiwan. Currently there are six bicycle manufacturers in Cambodia, five of which are of Taiwanese origin.
  • Duty-free status for exports to Europe for a number of manufactured goods such as bicycles has brought investors to move production from neighbouring countries to Cambodia.
+ Tell me more about the tourism industry in Cambodia?
  • Southeast Asia remains one of the fastest growing tourist markets in the world with Cambodia also benefiting from “side-trips” from Thailand, Vietnam and other regional hotspots. The tourism industry has continued to grow rapidly in Cambodia, in part due to regional low-cost airlines opening new direct lines and the simplification of visa procedures.
  • This year, Cambodian tourism is demonstrating its lowest growth rate since the global financial crisis, as suggested by the Ministry of Tourism in March 2015. Regardless, the number of visitors reached 4.5 million last year, which is still a 7 percent rise from 4.2 million in 2013.
  • Commentators suggest the industry was affected in the early part of 2014 by the domestic political stalemate. Chinese tourists also appear to have lessened after political upheaval in Thailand and anti-China demonstrations in Vietnam in early 2014. Vietnamese are still the largest demographic of tourists to Cambodia, with the Chinese coming in second.
  • Growth is predicted to pick up to about 15 percent in 2015. Though most tourists spend a small amount of time in the country generally, their stays are gradually lengthening as remote provinces like Sihanoukville, Kampot, Kep, Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri begin to attract tourists away from the temples at Siem Reap.
+ Tell me more about the agriculture industry in Cambodia?
  • Despite rapid growth in garments and tourism, Cambodia remains an agrarian society, with over half the population engaged in the agriculture sector. Regionally too, agriculture is the dominant industry. Hence, products are intensively traded with neighbouring countries. Duty-free access granted to Cambodia by the EU and Russia has been a key driver of rapid export growth since 2009.
  • Rice production is extensive and widespread. The cost of rice paddy production in Cambodia is one of the lowest in the world. Cambodia’s rice exports between January and May 2014 increased by one percent from the year prior to 148,262 metric tonnes, according to figures from the Federation of Cambodian Rice Exporters.
  • Cambodia also has a long history of rubber cultivation, dating back to French colonial times, and it remains an important crop. There has been a 34 percent rise in dry rubber exports in 2013 according to Ministry of Commerce figures released at the start of 2014.
  • Agricultural growth generally decelerated in 2014, responding to declining world agricultural prices, according to the latest World Bank economic outlook on the region. The Government is taking efforts to improve rice milling and logistical costs throughout Cambodia, which would further help improve trade competitiveness.
  • Meanwhile, the Cambodian organic export markets in the USA and Europe continue to expand, especially for organic rice, pepper and moringa. With higher prices offered globally for organic rice, producers and post-harvest processors are well rewarded for converting fully to international organic standards.
+ Rice
  • Rice is a traditional crop of cultural and historical significance and its production is extensive and widespread.
  • The cost of rice paddy production is one of the lowest in the world.
  • Duty-free access granted to Cambodia by the EU and Russia has been a key driver of rapid export growth since 2009.
  • Cambodia’s rice exports between January and May 2014 increased by 1 % from the same time last year, to 148,262 metric tonnes according to figures from the Federation of Cambodian Rice Exporters.
  • The main rice export destinations are Malaysia, France, Poland, Gabon and China. Global trade in milled rice is expected to remain at near record volumes over medium term at 30+ million metric tonnes per year.
  • However, Myanmar is likely to re-emerge as a large low cost rice exporter and major competitor as it gained its duty-free status from July 2014.
+ Rubber
  • Cambodia has a long history of rubber cultivation that began in French colonial times and it remains an important crop.
  • There has been a 34% rise in dry rubber exports in 2013 according to Ministry of Commence figures released at the start of 2014, thanks to rising global demand.
  • The revenue earned through rubber equates approximately $170 million up from $160 million the year before.
  • The main trading partners for rubber are China, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and some European countries.
  • The sector is also seeing an increasing number of domestic farmers as well as foreign investors who use land- concessions to build large scale rubber plantations.
+ Cassava
  • Cambodia exported 300,000 tonnes of fresh and dry cassava in 2013, down 58% compared with the 720,000 tonnes in 2012, according to recent figures released by the Ministry of Commence.
  • Cassava, which is used to produce animal feed and ethanol, has been sold mainly to Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea and China.
  • The decline was explained by the previous years’ flooding which destroyed many crops, however, farmers are discouraged to continue growing these types of crops.
  • These crops are also subject to disease.
+ Tell me more about the Mining and Exploration industry in Cambodia?
  • A number of large international mining companies are currently prospecting in Cambodia.
  • There is large potential for production of a number of minerals such as gold, copper and other base metals, bauxite, iron ore, coal as well oil and gas, both on and off shore.
  • Despite the potential, gold has not yet been mined on a commercial scale in Cambodia.
  • Renaissance Minerals, however, are in the process of completing a scoping and feasibility study on their 1.2 million-ounce Gold deposit in Mondulkiri. The next stage is permitting and development of the mine. It will be at least two years before completion of this phase when operations can begin.
  • MESCO Gold Cambodia Limited will complete their environmental impact assessment and licensing process within the next six to twelve months as part of the permitting process prior to commencement of construction of their planned underground gold mine (in association with Angkor Gold Corporation, a Canadian Company).
  • Oil also exists off the coast of Cambodia. KrisEnergy of Singapore has recently purchased Chevron’s interest in Block A, an offshore block in the Gulf of Thailand. Since purchasing this block, KrisEnergy is in the process of final negotiations of their production sharing agreement with the Government. The steps after this final agreement shall be permitting and production.
  • KrisEnergy acquired Chevron’s 30 per cent stake of Block A in August 2014, adding to its existing 25 per cent stake, giving it a controlling stake. At the time, the energy company said it expected to pump out 10,000 barrels of oil per day from Block A.
  • The KrisEnergy deal was finally brokered only after Chevron and the Cambodian government spent years unsuccessfully trying to reach an agreement over taxation and profits.
  • Current low oil prices may, however, slow exploration and development.
  • The Japanese Government Oil Company and the Vietnamese Government Oil Company have carried out exploration and seismic surveys of their onshore blocks, suggesting they will begin drilling sometime in the near future.
  • A new petroleum law, the country’s first legislation governing the extraction of oil from onshore and offshore fields, is currently being drafted.
  • Another reform to be passed in conjunction with the petroleum law, addresses the inconsistencies between tax rates that could apply to the oil sector.
+ What are Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and how can they help me do business in Cambodia?
  • In 2013, Cambodia had eight Special Economic Zones (SEZs) operational- Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville SEZ I & SEZ II, Manhattan (the first developed SEZ in Cambodia), Tai Seng Bavet, Neang Koh Kong, Poi Pet O’Neang and Goldfame Pak Shun, with operators from Cambodia, Japan, China, Thailand and Taiwan. An additional 14 SEZs have been created, however, there are currently no investors in these zones. Sihanoukville Port SEZ is the only SEZ managed by the Cambodian Government.
  • In 2013, 94 companies operating in SEZs, including 37 in Phnom Penh SEZ, 18 in Manhattan SEZ, and 18 in Sihanoukville SEZ II. As of 2013, Cambodian SEZs are host to 69 light manufacturing companies, 17 garment companies and six footwear manufacturers.
  • This number continues to grow.
  • SEZs provide better infrastructure in terms of water, waster water treatment, logistics and communications, then elsewhere in Cambodia. However, according to the World Bank, SEZs are not yet delivering the benefits expected by foreign investors and needs to be addressed to improve the competitiveness of firms in Cambodia.
  • Firms located in SEZs benefit from Qualified Investment Project (QIP) status. QIP grants new investors both within and outside SEZs a number of investment and tax incentives, however these do not apply to investment expansion.
  • Government officials on site provide a one-stop shop to handle foreign investors; submissions, requests and complaints, and streamlined trade administrative procedures.
  • Special Economic Zones may be established by the State, private enterprise or a joint venture between the State and private enterprise.
  • The zone developer has to possess sufficient capital and means to develop the required infrastructure in the zone, including the human resources to manage the activities in the zone.
  • They also require the legal rights to possess the land for establishing the SEZ, lease the land and provide services to zone investors and arrange security personnel.
  • The size of the land must be more than 50 hectares with precise geographical boundaries.
  • Fences should be installed to surround the export processing zone, free trade area and the premises of each investor in the zone.
  • Special Economic Zones are special areas created for the development of economic sectors which bring together all industrial and other related activities. Including general industrial zones and export processing zones with production and free trade areas, service areas and some residential areas.
  • A good example of the benefits of SEZs occurred recently when The Coca-Cola Company announced it will build a second factory in Cambodia, investing $100 million into a new plant in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone, which will enable it to triple its current output.
  • The PPSEZ met all the criteria that the multinational company needed to significantly expand its operations within Cambodia: capacity, utilities and and onsite services.
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