Monday, May 7, 2012

China Exim Bank to put $235m in steel, media

May Kunmakara 
Monday, 07 May 2012

The Export-Import Bank of China (Exim Bank) planned to invest US$235 million in two Cambodian mega projects, one of which was the modernisation of a TV station that one analyst said might not be necessary given the country’s level of development.

During a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday, Exim Bank Vice President Zhu Xinqiang said the bank would look to invest in a steel refinery and a digital TV project, according to Hun Sen’s adviser Eang Sophallet.

“The first project, a digital TV station investment, the company will come to invest with a local, private-owned TV station to modernise the TV system [in Cambodia] digitally, with a phone and internet system,” Eang Sophallet said. “The second project is a steel refinery plant that will import raw material from abroad. [It would] supply Cambodia as well as the region.”

Hun Sen answered Zhu Xinqiang’s call for support on the projects, saying they were much needed in the country, according to Eang Sophallet.

A timeframe for the investments was not disclosed.

As Cambodia takes on more investment from China, analysts have noted the risks of reliance, especially in the media sector, on investment from surrounding countries.

“Any association coming from these authoritarian regimes is suspicious,” Lao Mong Hay, an independent political analyst, said of investment from China and Vietnam. “They could have an influence on our people.”

Lao Mong Hay stressed the importance of local investment in the media sector, and questioned Cambodia’s need for digital TV programming given the country’s current state of development.

In early February, the Cambodian government signed a loan package of $302 million with Exim Bank for road and irrigation projects, in addition to a $198.2 million loan received in August 2010.

To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara


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