Singapore, Cambodia launch digital corridor to boost trade among SMEs

The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced on June 18 that they will launch a Financial Transparency Corridor (FTC) to help expand trade between small and medium-sized enterprises in the two countries.

The FTC has granted financial institutions in Singapore and Cambodia increased access to data, which will enable them to make better credit risk assessments. The initiative is currently in its first phase, with the first group of participating financial institutions on board. The goal is to execute the first live loan transactions later this year.

Participating financial institutions

The participating financial institutions are as follows:

  • Singapore:

    • Liquid Group;
    • Sing Investments and Finance
    • ANEXT Bank Ltd.
  • Cambodia:

    • Advanced Bank of Asia;
    • Acleda Bank;
    • Philip Bank;
    • Sathapana Bank
    • Wing Bank.

Challenges facing Cambodian SMEs

Cambodian small and medium-sized enterprises have difficulty raising the capital they need to expand. There are a number of factors that contribute to this.

Around 74 percent of Cambodian small and medium-sized enterprises cited collateral requirements as a major obstacle to obtaining loans from financial institutions. Many businesses do not have sufficient assets to meet these requirements.

Find business support

Only about 21% of Cambodian SMEs have access to formal banking services, a significantly lower figure than in other ASEAN countries. Furthermore, average interest rates for SME loans in Cambodia are relatively high, ranging from 12% to 18%, which can be too much for many SMEs to afford.

Importantly, more than 60 percent of Cambodian small and medium-sized enterprises do not have formal financial records or credit histories, making it difficult for banks to evaluate them and create credit ratings.

Finally, approximately 43% of small business owners have limited understanding of financial products and services, affecting their ability to effectively manage their finances and obtain financing.

In this way, FTC’s efforts could improve data accessibility and expand trade between Cambodian SMEs and the rest of the world.

The Importance of Singapore as a Trade and Investment Partner

Singapore is increasing its investments in Cambodia, with the city-state becoming the second largest supplier of foreign investment to Cambodia in 2023. Moreover, bilateral trade in the first four months of 2024 reached US$1.8 billion, up 42 percent compared to the same period in 2023.

Several key sectors are benefiting from strengthened trade and investment ties.

  1. ManufacturingSingaporean investment has played a key role in the development of Cambodia’s manufacturing industry, with factories and production facilities set up by Singaporean companies helping to increase production capacity and improve quality standards.
  2. Real Estate & Construction: Singaporean developers are active in Cambodia’s real estate market, investing in residential, commercial and mixed-use projects. These developments are transforming the city’s landscape and providing modern living and working spaces.
  3. serviceThe services sector, including finance, hospitality and retail, is experiencing significant growth thanks to Singaporean investment, with Singaporean financial institutions introducing innovative banking solutions to improve financial inclusion and accessibility for Cambodian businesses and individuals.
  4. Technology and Innovation: Technology collaboration between Singapore and Cambodia has led to the introduction of advanced digital solutions. The partnership has accelerated the adoption of modern technologies to improve efficiency and productivity across industries.

Conclusion

The launch of the Financial Transparency Corridor will further strengthen economic ties between Singapore and Cambodia. The FTC aims to facilitate trade and investment flows and benefit small and medium-sized enterprises in both countries by increasing accessibility to data and improving risk credit assessments.

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The ASEAN Briefing Dezan Shira and AssociatesThe firm assists foreign investors throughout Asia and has offices across ASEAN. Singapore, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh Cityand Da Nang In Vietnam, JakartaWe also have a partner company in Indonesia. Malaysia, Philippinesand Thailand As with our practice China and IndiaPlease contact us at asean@dezshira.com or visit our website. translation:.

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