PHNOM PENH, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Bank of China has officially begun its branch in Cambodia on Saturday, and its Phnom Penh Branch is the first lender from China in the country and is the Kingdom's 30th commercial bank.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Keat Chhon believes that the bank's presence here would contribute to the development of Cambodian economy.
"The bank will provide advantages and positive inputs to Cambodia to boost its banking industry and economic growth," he said during the launching ceremony, which was attended by about 200 bankers, local and Chinese businesspeople in Cambodia.
"I would like to encourage the bank to focus its loans on agricultural sector in order to help Cambodian government to develop this sector, which is one of the four pillars supporting the country's economic growth," he said.
Chea Chanto, the governor of National Bank of Cambodia, said the bank's presence reflected the confidence of Chinese investors in Cambodian market.
"With the presence of the bank, it would bring new technology and innovative banking products to develop Cambodian banking industry," he said.
He said that by the end of 2010, the customers' deposits in the banking sector grew by 26 percent to 4.16 billion U.S. dollars, while the customer credits increased by 26.7 percent to 3.18 billion U.S. dollars.
The country has the population of 14.3 million, of which, 1.35 million people have used banking system, he added.
Meanwhile, Yue Yi, executive vice president of Bank of China, said the presence of the bank in Phnom Penh demonstrates the evidence of the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation between China and Cambodia.
"We would help support large Chinese firms doing business in Cambodia, especially those in infrastructure projects, hydropower dams, agriculture, and special economic zones," he said. "It is in line with the policy of China in helping to develop Cambodia's economy."
He said that as the bank's loan targets are mainly on huge projects, so he believes that the bank's presence here will not affect existing local banks and the bank is looking forward to cooperating with all of them.
He said that the Bank of China Phnom Penh branch will be a center for Chinese yuan RMB settlement, clearance and remittance.
"We hope that the National Bank of Cambodia will include Chinese currency into its central clearing system for banking settlement in order to promote the presence of Chinese currency in Cambodian markets."
Cambodia sets to launch its stock market in July this year. Yue Yi said the Bank of China will actively participate in the upcoming stock market through providing clearance and settlement services.
"We will also provide funding to companies in the stock market and other market players," he added.
Chen Chang Jiang, chief executive officer of Bank of China Phnom Penh Branch, said that Cambodia's financial market is relatively small at the moment, but it has lots of room to grow.
"We set our stance firmly in Cambodia, we are committed to grow stronger in Cambodian banking market," he said.
Bank of China is among the four largest banks in China. Its total asset is over 11 trillion Chinese yuan (1.7 trillion U.S. dollars), with branches in 31 countries around the world.