Successful Danish business mission

The first ever Danish business delegation to Cambodia left the capital Phnom Penh on Tuesday 19 May with a sense of mission completed. The 17 companies taking part in the ‘fact finding mission’ were a mixed bag of Danish companies operating out of Denmark, Thailand or Vietnam. They had different reasons to be there, but surprisingly many were able to benefit from the trip.
      Mikkel Wakefield of Missionpharma A/S in Lynge in Denmark is currently the most experienced and successful Danish exporter to Cambodia with a yearly turnover of 15 million Danish kroner. He had previously received invaluable assistance from the Embassy in Bangkok in securing a major public tender and was during the mission assisted by the ambassador in a separate meeting with the Ministry of Finance about a delay in releasing payment for certain orders.
      Henrik Hansen of MPA was also on home turf in Phnom Penh. MPA security services has been offered for many years in Cambodia and his guards were visible outside main important buildings all over Phnom Penh. His more than 1500 guards constitutes 50% of the market.
      Martin M. Kristensen from IFU – the Industrialization Fund for Developing Countries – was there to see if the rules and regulations were safe enough for IFU co-finance possible Danish projects in Cambodia. “It’s too early to tell, but we did see an opportunity,” he said before the delegation left Phnom Penh Tuesday.
      Carsten Møller of Green City Denmark was less secretive. He was supposed to obtain the license to build and operate a huge environmentally sustainable resort on an entire island off Cambodia’s shore near the Vietnamese border, but a few details were not in place and the signing had to be postponed. The project, when realized, will be a showcase for Danish environmental equipment – apart from an exclusive, luxurious five star resort.
      Kitti Chaiwattanatorn and Poul Haugaard Petersen from ECCO (Thailand) Co., Ltd. were also openly exploring their interest in building a factory in Cambodia near the Thai border town Aranyaprathet. The idea was to shift labour intensive parts of the shoe production to this factory whereupon the semi-processed goods would be completed at the ECCO factory in Ayutthaya north of Bangkok. Key to the realization of the plan was if export-import procedures could be simplified enough for goods could be moved from the Cambodian factory to the Thai factory within a single working day.
      Bjarne Skelmose of Kosan Crisplant held talks with the Cambodian authorities about possibly assisting them in establishing the regulations for filling of tanks and transportation of cooking gas. It is expected that cooking of food in Cambodia will within a few years move from predominantly wood or charcoal fired stoves to gas fuelled stoves. Eventually there may also be a market for Kosan Crisplant’s tank filling equipment when this happens.
      Henrik N. Andersen and Hans Milmann of Sea Saigon Shipping, a subsidiary of the Danish Fabricius Shipping Company and the only foreign shipping company with license to operate domestic shipping transportation in Vietnam, were interested in signs of improvements in customs procedures and for possible local agents in Cambodia.
      Frank Olesen of the Kjaer Group likewise came from his office in Vietnam. The Kjaer Groups sells currently over one hundred cars to foreign governmental and non-governmental agencies operating in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam per year. His main interest was in exploring ways or partners which could improving the delivery of cars to clients in Cambodia who will today have to take care of all import and registration procedures themselves.
      Arne Christensen of Carnitech in Bangkok is currently doing very well in Vietnam and Indonesia and was looking for projects within food processing in Phnom Penh.
      Poul Erik Frey of BK-Medical in Bangkok was surveying the health care sector to see if there were plans to build or expand public hospitals where his ultrasound equipment might be of interest. He was possibly the one participant who did not see any opportunity for him in the near future.
      Dan Christensen of Intertec’s regional office in Bangkok was present only on the first day of the mission. Tuesday was the official opening of a huge project in Ho Chi Minh City where Intertec has been main contractor on moving two pig farms outside the city to a 50 hectare site and in the process upgraded the operation to be a fully automated farm utilizing mainly high-tech Danish farming equipment.
      Carl Østergaard of Ramboll was the freshman on the mission. The regional office of Ramboll was only established in Bangkok one year ago and for Carl Østergaard it was his first chance to survey possible projects in Cambodia.
      Finally, Gregers Moller of Scand-Media was busy finding potential local advertisers or partners for the regional Scandinavian magazine, ScandAsia – when not covering the delegation together with journalist Knud Brix and photographer Kristian Holst Djurhuus for their own magazines and the daily Jernindustrien back in Denmark.
      The mission was led by Ambassador Ulrik Helweg-Larsen and organized by Commecial Counsellor Tine Hylleberg assisted by Stig Vagt Andersen of Ben Adisti based in Bangkok, who also participated in the delegation. Stig Vagt Andersen represents Kuoni Denmark which is today the largest travel operator sending Danes, Swedes and Norwegians on visits to Thailand and Cambodia.
      One of the highlights of the mission was an introduction to doing business in Cambodia by the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Commerce, Sok Siphana and his “brother” Sok Chenda from the Council for the Development of Cambodia dubbed “The Socks”. Their surprisingly colourful presentation left everybody in a high mood of optimism which was then later during meetings with hands on businessmen in the capital watered down with stories of corruption and lack of market transparency to the more realistic level that business opportunities were indeed there, but surprises might occur along the.
      On Sunday night, the participants met a selection of the Danish business community and NGO’s working in Cambodia including Danida representative Mogens Laumand Christensen, agricultural advisor Helge Brunse, water quality expert Henrik Garsdal and social researcher Christine Nissen.
      Monday night some of the businessmen also managed to have a night on the town collecting impressions of the free enterprise by night in the bustling city.

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