Chinese Delegation’s Visit Signals Rising Interest in Cambodia

An association of Chinese real estate developers and construction firms has visited Cambodia to search for new investment opportunities, a change in tack that industry insiders see as a further sign of accelerating interest in the construction sector.

Kim Heang, president of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association, said the visit of 13 delegates, representing the De Yang Construction and Real Estate Union Association from China’s Sichuan province, marked the first time a Chinese real estate association had approached them.

An overhead view of OCIC’s Olympia City construction site next to Olympic Stadium in Phnom Penh (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

Chinese developers have previously visited Cambodia individually, although associations from the U.S., Hong Kong and South Korea have made similar visits in the past, Mr. Heang said.

“This is a new phenomenon,” he said, drawing a parallel to the rise in Chinese investment in Cambodian factories following a spike in interest from industry associations.

In manufacturing, China “came to Cambodia to visit as an association first, then later the members started to cooperate to invest in businesses together,” he said.

Mr. Heang said the Chinese delegation had signed an agreement with his association and Emerald Plus Property Management, a Phnom Penh-based company founded by Chea Sophalla in 2015, on Sunday to receive more information on investment opportunities.

“Most of them are construction companies or housing developers; some of them are general construction companies; some specialized in building bridges or roads; some are in condo projects,” he said.

Mr. Heang said that while the housing market had becoming saturated with properties targeting wealthy Cambodians and residents, there was still room for more affordable projects.

“The exaggerated part is the rich and middle-class houses, not the poor, as not many are building them for the price of $20,000 or below,” he said.

Hoem Seiha, director of research at VTrust Appraisal, a local property valuation firm, said the Chinese association’s visit was likely to pave the way for more investments.

Chinese companies and individuals are already the biggest foreign investors in Cambodian property, mostly in high-rise condominiums, Mr. Seiha said.

The devaluation of the yuan over the past couple of years has seen a surge in Chinese nationals holding large amounts of the currency seeking investments abroad.

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