The coastal province of Preah Sihanouk will soon be home to four more special economic zones, bringing the total number of industrial parks there to nine, the prime minister said Saturday.
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Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for an ambitious road restoration project, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the new industrial parks will open soon, helping to boost investment in Preah Sihanouk province and its capital city, Sihanoukville.
Preah Sihanouk now has five active SEZs, Mr Hun Sen noted.
Industry insiders told Khmer Times that the upcoming SEZs will encourage more foreign businesses to invest in Cambodia.
Sin Chanthy, president of the Cambodia Freight Forwarders Association, said yesterday that more SEZs means more investment is going into the province.
“SEZs mostly attract manufacturing companies, providing more job opportunities and increasing the country’s exports,” he said.
He brought attention to the traffic problems the province has seen in recent years, pointing out that it could hinder the flow of investment.
“Fortunately, this matter is being addressed by the government, who is building the necessary infrastructure,” he said, referring to a $294-million project to restore and expand 34 roads in Preah Sihanouk. The groundbreaking for the road expansion project was held on Saturday.
Lim Heng, vice president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, told Khmer Times yesterday that the new SEZs will help the province address the current shortage of warehouse space. He said the rapid rise of investment going into the country has left little warehouse space available for new investors.
During his speech last week, Mr Hun Sen said the government aims to transform Preah Sihanouk province into a multi-purpose industrial area. He said Sihanoukville is now the Kingdom’s second economic hub, after Phnom Penh and ahead of Siem Reap.
According to a recent report from the Council for the Development of Cambodia, 18 special economic zones are active in the country, mostly in the border with Vietnam and Thailand.
Chinese-owned Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, the country’s largest industrial park, occupies 1,117 hectares. It hosts 153 companies and 23,000 workers. Total investment in the SEZ is valued at almost $1 billion.
“Our business model is based on attracting investors who lease the land while we build the facilities that they will use,” Jack Chen, president of SSEZ, told Khmer Times recently.
“With over 150 companies here, we believe we are an important driver of economic growth in Cambodia,” he noted.
Anthony Galliano, chairman of Cambodian Investment Management, told Khmer Times recently that Chinese firms, in particular, are investing heavily in Cambodian SEZs as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
“China is taking advantage of Cambodia’s low tax rates, cheap labour, and the capacity to grow and set up reserve manufacturing bases,” he said.
A delegation from Fujian, a province on the southeastern coast of China, was this month in Sihanoukville exploring business opportunities in electronics, mines and energy, infrastructure, and SEZs.