Revolution, internal conflict and a decade long foreign occupation sent at least one million Cambodians fleeing abroad but Cambodia now has a fast growing economy while the Cambodian recruitment market is in need of Cambodians to return home to help the country rebuild and the economy to continue to grow.
The Cambodian Diaspora and Cambodian Returnees
Prior to 1979, there were few Cambodians in the United States. However and after the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge government, 150,000 Cambodian refugees were resettled in the United States with major population concentrations emerging in California, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Washington and more recently in both Texas and Florida. In fact, Long Beach (California) even has a “little Phnom-Penh.” In addition, there are at least 25,000 Australians of Cambodian descent and another 20,000 Cambodians living in France.
In recent years, Cambodians have also gone abroad in increasing numbers to work as guest workers in Thailand and Malaysia while others who left Cambodia as refugees or were the children of refugees have returned home to seek professional opportunities.
The Cambodia Recruitment Market
Cambodia’s economy has grown rapidly in recent years with the garment industry and tourism being major drivers of economic growth plus oil and natural gas reserves have reportedly been found off-shore. In addition and as of early 2012, Cambodia already had 25 mostly small scale casinos with both the government and developers have plans to significantly expand casino gambling in the country in an effort to further encourage tourism.
However and given Cambodia’s troubled history and the events that occurred there in the 1970s and 1980s, the country still faces a shortage of highly skilled professionals and managers with foreign expatriates filling in the gap at many multinational companies. In addition, large Vietnamese companies are increasingly active in the Cambodian market while MNCs often consider Cambodia, since historically it was part of “Indochina,” as falling under the jurisdiction of their Vietnam operations. However, employers should keep in mind that Cambodia’s history and its historical relationship with Vietnam means that employing ethnic Vietnamese managers to run or look after operations in Cambodia could be problematic.
Working in Cambodia
Foreign expatriates seeking work in Cambodia or who have accepted a job there should obtain both a business visa and ensure that they have a proper work permit. And while there are probably numerous foreigner expatriates, especially Westerners, working in Cambodia only on a Cambodian tourist visa or a Cambodian business visa with no problems from immigration authorities, it should be noted that there are reports that work permit laws are being enforced for some nationalities with Chinese and Vietnamese expatriates or entrepreneurs having been singled out and deported for not having proper Cambodian work permits. In other words, it’s best to ensure that all of your Cambodian visa paper work and Cambodian work permits are properly obtained and kept in order by your employer. For further information about Cambodian visas or Cambodian work permits, visit the website of the Cambodian Department of Immigration.
As for Cambodian income taxes, nonresidents should expect to pay a flat 20% tax on their Cambodian sourced salary while residents pay a graduated tax rate of 0% to 20% on their worldwide salary. There is no annual tax return and employers must pay the monthly tax on salary declarations and make payments no later than the 15th day of the succeeding month. Hence, expatriates in Cambodia should expect to be quoted a net salary. For further information about Cambodian tax rates or Cambodia’s taxes in general, visit taxrates.cc, or KPMG’s Taxation of International Executives page for Cambodia or PWC Cambodia’s publications page for its latest Cambodia Tax Booklet.
Finally and as a developing country, foreigners and returnees alike working in Cambodia will need to have international health insurance that also covers medical evacuation (e.g. to Bangkok) in the event of a serious illness or accident.