If you are a regular reader of my blog, you understand that a top priority of the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia is to promote and strengthen economic relations between the United States and Cambodia. I began my career working on commercial issues, so I am acutely aware that increasing international trade and investment can bring jobs and economic development to both our countries. The American Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia – better known as “AmCham” – has been a key partner of the U.S. Embassy in developing a better understanding of Cambodia’s business environment and helping to strengthen our bilateral relationship since it was founded in 1996.
AmCham’s 120 members include some of America’s most prominent companies, such as GE, Microsoft, and Federal Express. AmCham is also proud to count successful Cambodian companies like ACLEDA Bank and Bellevue among its members. In fact, AmCham’s diverse membership and long-term expertise are two of its greatest strengths. During my monthly meeting with AmCham members, I hear a wide variety of views on important issues affecting the Cambodian business environment and the impact on our bilateral relationship. We brainstorm on sharing best practices and working together to find solutions. This is why when we often have senior U.S. government officials or international executives visiting Cambodia, AmCham is the obvious venue for gaining insights.
Beyond the close relationship with the U.S. Embassy, AmCham also offers monthly events on critical issues affecting the business community. This past week, for example, AmCham hosted an informative luncheon on the ongoing Ebola outbreak and other public health risks. Speakers from the Cambodian Ministry of Health, the U.S. Embassy, and the NGO community discussed the efforts of the Cambodian government and its international, NGO, and business partners to mitigate the risks. Earlier this year, Minister of Commerce Sun Chanthol gave a fascinating presentation on his efforts to improve the trade and investment climate in Cambodia. AmCham also hosted Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Dr. Hang Chuon Naron where he discussed the important work he is doing to reform Cambodia’s education system – an issue that is keenly on the minds of investors seeking skilled labor. AmCham holds regular consultations with Cambodian government leaders to exchange ideas on good governance and creating an investor-friendly environment.
AmCham has played a critical role in our efforts to increase trade and investment in Cambodia. During my time as U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia, AmCham assisted the U.S. Embassy in organizing two reverse trade missions to the United States and three regional trade missions to Thailand and Singapore. Our coordinated efforts have resulted in hundreds of matchmaking connections between Cambodian and American businesses. These connections also help generate ideas about public-private partnerships, such as the U.S. Action Plan for Children in Adversity which will bring together private institutions, NGOs, and government partners in an effort to help Cambodian children grow up free from deprivation, exploitation, and danger.
Finally, I think it is important to point out that AmCham members are known for setting a good example through their corporate social responsibility programs (CSR) and adherence to international business norms. General Electric has set a wonderful example by donating millions of dollars in medical equipment and training to Cambodian hospitals, while Ford Motor Company has sponsored the digging of water wells for clinics and schools. Two other AmCham member companies, Coca Cola and Prudential, signed new Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Cambodian Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU). These MOUs commit the signatories to a standard of transparency, ethical practices, and staff training to prevent corruption, while also improving communication with the ACU. These commitments represent a major milestone for the Cambodian business environment and underscore the ability of western companies to operate in Cambodia.
My thanks go out to AmCham and its members for all the work they are doing to foster growth through responsible business practices. AmCham serves as the premier organization for small business owners, multinational companies, and individuals who want to network and foster a strong business environment. I’ve really enjoyed working with AmCham over the past few years, and I greatly appreciate all the efforts of the members to build strong commercial ties between the United States and Cambodia.
AmCham welcomes new members, as well as inquiries about its events and activities. You can learn more about AmCham at its website: http://www.amchamcambodia.net/ and its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/AmCham-Cambodia/353044794717807. Follow AmCham on Twitter @AmChamCam.