Many Vietnamese banks are planning to invest in Cambodia because a more favourable climate for growth is expected this year.

Maritime Bank and Sai Gon – Hanoi Commercial Bank (SHB) are setting up bank branches in Cambodia , with Maritime opening wholly foreign-invested branches this year.

The bank is also considering opening joint ventures that operate in securities, insurance, remittances and financial leasing sector in Laos and Cambodia .

SHB is completing final procedures to open its branch in Cambodia . A bank representative said the bank had studied in detail whether Cambodia was a potential market for bank operations.

Senior lieutenant-general Le Huu Duc, deputy minister of Defence and chairman of the management board of the Military Commercial Joint – Stock Bank (MB) said the bank opened a branch in Cambodia last year, reflecting its development strategy for the Indochinese.

Martime Bank Phnom Penh is expected to become a financial bridge for Vietnam , Laos and Cambodia , and contribute more added value to the Cambodian community.

Than The Hanh, director of MB Cambodia , said Cambodia has a rapid growth rate in recent years but credit and banking-service access of businesses and local residents are limited. The growth of capital mobilisation has been slow, and banking services have been poor.

In addition, card services and the inter-banking market are underdeveloped. Foreign exchange trading and the bond market barely exist.

However, Sacombank has had success in Cambodia , first establishing its branch in Phnom Penh in June, 2009.

In October of last year, Sacombank decided to set up a 100 percent foreign-invested bank in Cambodia .

For 2010 and the first nine months of 2011, Sacombank Cambodia had total mobilised capital of 40 million USD, outstanding loans of 58 million USD and tax-before profit of 2 million USD.

The International Monetary Fund forecasts that the GDP growth rate of Cambodia will reach 7-8 percent this year.

Currently, Cambodia has about 503 businesses, of which 20 percent are located in Phnom Penh .

According to Cambodia 's Ministry of Commerce, Cambodia 's import value from Vietnam for eight months last year increased by 43 percent to 976 million USD over the same period of 2010.

Its exports increased by 116 percent to 105.2 million USD.

As a result of Cambodia 's rising growth, Vietnamese businesses now face more competition from Cambodian companies.

Before Maritime Bank arrived, Cambodia had 25 foreign commercial banks and four branches, together with 21 local banks.

Foreign banks accounted for 65 percent of the market share of the banking system, especially the most powerful and four largest banks, ACLEDA Bank, Canadia Bank, Campubank and ANZ Royal.

Three Vietnamese banks also have a presence in Cambodia , Agribank, BIDV and Sacombank, making the banking environment even more competitive./.