The nation has received approval from the Cambodian government to open a trade center in Phnom Penh, the semi-official Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) said.
The center, which is expected to be officially opened next month at the earliest, will raise the number of the nation’s trade offices to eight in the 10 ASEAN nations, which is Taiwan’s second-largest export market, TAITRA said.
Taiwan has similar offices to promote bilateral trade in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Among ASEAN economies, Cambodia has been eyed by Taiwanese businesses as a potential investment destination after anti-China riots in Vietnam in May — which caused serious damage to many Taiwanese-invested factories — raised questions about Vietnam’s viability as a production base.
Taiwan was encouraged by an estimate by the IMF that Cambodia’s GDP growth will average 7.3 percent between last year and 2017, TAITRA said.
There has been high demand in Cambodia for many products produced in Taiwan, including automobile parts, bicycles, food processing machines, agriculture machines and tools, medical equipment and devices, construction hardware, wood processing machines and solar energy panels, the council said.
According to statistics from the Council for the Development of Cambodia, Taiwan injected US$935 million into 298 investment projects in Cambodia from 1994 to 2012.
Last year, Taiwan’s exports to Cambodia totaled US$706 million, more than double its exports of US$320 million in 2009, the figures showed.
TAITRA chairman Wang Chih-kang (王志剛), who is due to attend the trade center’s opening ceremony, said yesterday that the step to further relations with ASEAN countries helps boost the nation’s chances of joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
Cambodia is playing an increasingly important role within ASEAN, Wang said, citing the IMF forecast.
Taiwan first applied to establish a trade office in Phnom Penh in 2009, and opened an office in fellow ASEAN member Myanmar at the end of last year.
Cambodia and Myanmar, both close to China, have changed their attitudes toward the nation after they saw that Taiwanese firms have contributed a lot to Vietnam’s economy in recent years, Wang said.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan