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BRANCH BANKING | Staff Reporter, Japan

Untapped Cambodia welcomes Japanese banking giant

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Japan’s second largest bank in asset size, has just opened a representative office in Phnom Penh.

Prompted by lackluster growth at home, SMBC has become the newest Japanese company to explore Cambodia and its investment potentials. The new office will only provide information and assist Japanese investors, but might later be upgraded into a branch should conditions warrant.

The number of Japanese companies doing business in Cambodia is increasing. There are some 100 Japanese firms in Cambodia, mostly in the capital Phnom Penh, from just 50 in 2009.

Cambodia’s location at the heart of the “Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS)” is an attractive lure to foreign companies, said Hiroshi Irie, SMBC’s General Manager of Planning.

“Japanese banks are now coming back to Cambodia after 45 years. Cambodia is located in the centre of the GMS, which is a strategic position for trading in the region,” he said.

GMS consists of countries and provinces bordering the 4,900 kilometer-long Mekong River, namely Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and China’s Yunnan Province. The river is a major trading route linking these diverse locations to the South China Sea and international trade.

Hiromitsu Iwatate, Chairman of the Japanese Business Association of Cambodia, said that SMBC’s new opening reflected a growing trend amongst Japanese businesses looking to expand in Cambodia.

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