Remarks by Chargé D’affaires Michael Newbill at the Seminar on Aviation and the Cape Town Convention

Rosewood Hotel, 36th Floor, Salon II
Friday, February 22, 2019 2:00 p.m.
(as prepared for delivery)

Good morning and thank you for joining us today.  I am thrilled to see so many of you here to learn more today’s topic – the Cape Town Convention, and, more specifically, its potential benefits to Cambodia’s growing aviation sector.

Before we get started, I would like to thank Mr. Jeffrey Klang, the foremost expert on the Cape Town Convention from the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority, for traveling from United States to join this event.

I would also like to thank our partners, SSCA, AmCham Cambodia, Boeing, and GECAS for helping put this event together. And, thank you to our sponsors – Avis Budget Group, Dancing Bull, and Luma System for providing their support.

Let’s start out with a big number – 6 million. Cambodia welcomed a record number of approximately 6 million tourists in 2018 –– that’s more than double the number who visited in 2010. (Note – 2.5 million tourists visited Cambodia in 2010. End note.)  And, the government has estimated that tourists could double again – to 12 million – by 2025.

It is easy to see why Cambodia is working on plans to construct new airports, in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap as well as Koh Kong, because the current ones can’t accommodate the increasing tourist traffic.

Cambodia’s economy is also growing rapidly and it is increasingly engaged in trade with international markets, with some of that trade occurring via air.  Its own citizens – both tourists and business travelers – also require modern aviation infrastructure and services to support this growing international travel and trade.

In the news, we hear about the growth in Cambodia’s aviation sector on a regular basis.  More flights per week.  New airlines operators.  New international destinations served directly from Phnom Penh.  In this last case, we just learned that Cambodia will be connected to both the Philippines and Indonesia by direct flights for the first time later this year. That is good news for travelers but also good news for tourism….as well as for Cambodia’s economy.

I will leave it to the experts in the room today to explain the benefits of the Cape Town Convention in detail.  But the key point I want to emphasize is that adoption of the convention could allow Cambodia’s aviation companies to lease or buy airplanes and helicopters at a lower cost – something that could strengthen the sector as well as enable those companies – your companies – to acquire some of the latest aviation technologies on the market.  This would not only benefit the aviation sector, but also the tourism sector. It would be a win for Cambodia and a win for the people who want to visit this wonderful country.

I also want to note that other countries in the region are already taking advantage of the Convention Cape Town Convention – including Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, and Indonesia.  And, just this past Wednesday, a similar event was held in Laos to discuss how to move forward on the convention.  I don’t know about you – but I think Cambodia can compete with any of these countries – from either a tourism or aviation perspective – and the Capetown Convention can help Cambodia do just that.

As I wrap up, I just want to say a few more words about American business and acknowledge the U.S. company representatives who traveled to Phnom Penh for today’s seminar.  As Cambodia continues to grow, its choices for potential business partners will grow—including in the aviation sector.  I would encourage you all to consider who may be the best partner for you now, and for the long-term.

American businesses are different from many companies that operate in the region and many in Cambodia now.  They represent American values and bring with them quality products with high standards, transparency, and an adherence to the law.

The companies here today are looking for customers, yes, but they are also looking for long-term partners.   Because of this, they are among the best ambassadors from America to the rest of the world.

With that, I would just like to thank you all again for coming today and wish you luck on a fruitful day of discussions.  I hope to see and speak with many of you at tonight’s reception.

Aw-gun ch-ran.