Representatives of Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone yesterday met with a delegation from the Chinese city of Shenzhen, in the country’s southeast, to learn about Shezhen’s transformation from humble port city to one of the world’s biggest production centres.
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The event, which was organised by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (Unido), sought to provide insight into how to turn Sihanoukville SEZ into a world-class production hub, using Shenzhen, whose GDP last year was larger than that of Hong Kong’s, as a model.
Other participants included members of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, high-ranking Cambodian officials from different ministries and representatives of national universities in the kingdom.
Nut Unvoanra, deputy secretary general at the Cambodian Investment Board, said Shenzhen is the most successful SEZ in the world.
“China pioneered the concept of special economic zones, starting in the 80s,” he said. “Among all the SEZs they established, Shenzhen’s is their most remarkable achievement.”
Cong Cao, executive secretary general of the Shenzhen Foundation for International Exchange and Cooperation, said authorities in Sihanoukville must look to Shenzhen to learn from their meteoric rise as a production hub.
“With remarkable foresight and wisdom, the leadership of our country conceived the concept of special economic zones, opening a new chapter in the development of the nation with the establishment of the SEZ in Shenzhen,” he said.
“We are honoured to be able to share our experience becoming a world-leader in industrial production with Cambodia so that our past can serve you to build your future.”
Mr Cong said Shenzhen continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the world. In 2017, its GDP equalled $400 billion, higher than that of Hong Kong, he pointed out.
Its main industries are internet services, and equipment for the telecommunication, new energies and precision processing sectors. The city has been China’s biggest exporter for 25 consecutive years.
Tao Yitao, director of the Belt and Road Research Institute for International Cooperation and Development in Shenzhen, said the city’s success was the result of a knack for innovation, the ability to “tolerate failure”, and adaptability to global trends and demand.
Chen Reth, director of Preah Sihanouk province’s planning investment division, thanked the visiting delegation for sharing their expertise and promised to put what he learnt to work to make Sihanoukville SEZ a success to match the city’s privileged location.
“Our top priority is to make Sihanoukville SEZ a rotund success and a major player in inter-Asean trade,” he said. “We are located halfway between the SEZs of Hanoi and Bangkok. Our location is unbeatable.”
Last year, all Chinese investment projects registered at the Council for the Development of Cambodia combined were worth $1,656 million.
Trade volume between China and Cambodia surpassed $5 billion in 2017.