Cambodia, South Korea Joint Stock Exchange in 2009

Cambodia has posted annual economic growth of 11% over the past three years.

Cambodia, on Jan. 22, signed an agreement with representatives from South Korea's stock exchange operator to establish Cambodia's first stock market in 2009, officials said. The memorandum of understanding makes formal the planned joint venture between Cambodia and the Korea Exchange (KRX), Asia's fourth-largest bourse operator.

The Cambodian government will own a 51% share in the new exchange, with KRX holding 49%, said Aun Pon Monirath, secretary of state with Cambodia's finance ministry. "Both sides are now looking for a location and training people to work," he said after a signing ceremony with KRX.

While still one of the world's poorest countries, Cambodia has emerged from decades of conflict as one of the region's rising economies. It has posted annual economic growth averaging 11% over the past three years on the back of strong garment and tourism sectors. But Cambodia remains a largely cash-only economy and a high degree of mistrust keeps many people hoarding their money at home instead of using banks.

Last September parliament approved the law setting out the rules and regulations by which private and state enterprises can issue stocks and bonds. Despite concerns from opposition lawmakers over the independence of the new commission, Finance Minister Keat Chhon said at the time the law is up to international standards. But he acknowledged that many challenges remain -- particularly creating the infrastructure for the market and a computer system to manage trading.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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