Japanese firm boosts, diversifies Cambodia investments

Japanese firm boosts, diversifies Cambodia investments

A female Cambodian worker at a Japanese-owned factory in Phanom Penh Special Economic Zone. (Reuters photo)
A female Cambodian worker at a Japanese-owned factory in Phanom Penh Special Economic Zone. (Reuters photo)

Minebea Cambodia, a subsidiary of Minebea Mitsumi and one of the country's largest manufacturers of electronics, is expanding its Cambodian portfolio with a US$24.63 million investment in the pharmaceutical and medical equipment industries, among other sectors.

The Council for Development of Cambodia (CDC), the governmental agency charged with monitoring investment, announced the approval of Minebea’s investment proposal in late November, explaining that the Japanese company is injecting $24.63 million to expand its stake in Cambodia.

The new investment will go towards a slew of sectors, including pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, metal moulding units, plastic components of fans and bars for vibrating sensors, and will result in an expansion of Minebea's facilities in Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone and the creation of 1,315 new jobs.

Mey Kalyan, senior adviser to the Supreme National Economic Council, told Khmer Times on Monday that the new investment will represent a significant step forward in the industrial diversification of the country.

“It is great news for the industrial development of our country. The new investment won’t just help the industrial sector; it is also going to help advance the skills of our local workforce,” Mr Kalyan said, adding that Minebea representatives have already commended local workers for their quick learning and “eagerness to improve”.

Anthony Galliano, founder and CEO of Cambodian Investment Management, said foreign direct investment (FDI) from Japan is on the rise, but trailing other Asian countries like China, South Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia.

“It is very encouraging to see significant FDI going into manufacturing. Minebea is showing confidence in Cambodia’s nascent manufacturing sector after a successful test run. With Minebea’s further expansion into new product lines, Cambodia should benefit as a manufacturing centre,” Mr Galliano said.

“We have a young, willing, and rapidly improving workforce, greater focus on infrastructure development, and a very friendly and welcoming attitude towards foreign investment,” he added.

Mr Galliano explained that as Cambodia’s infrastructure improves and labour costs remain relatively low, investment from Japan can only go up. He said the government should take this as an indication that the country can compete with Thailand as a manufacturing hub in the not-so-distant future.

Minebea is the largest Japanese company in Cambodia. It entered the local market in 2011 to produce dynamo generators and motors to export to China, the European Union and the US.

After the launch of its third factory, the firm’s total investment in Cambodia reached $250 million in 2016.

Japan is the third-largest investor in the country. Since 1992, it has also been Cambodia’s biggest donor, giving more than $2 billion in official development assistance. Trade between Cambodia and Japan was $1.3 billion in 2016, according to official data.

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