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Firms show greater interest in border SEZ

SVAY RIENG
ENQUIRIES have picked up at the Manhattan Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in recent months after a period of slower interest since the beginning of the year, Yu Chao-Kuan, deputy general manager of Manhattan International Co, the developer of the SEZ, said last week.

“The number of investors interested in our SEZ declined at the beginning of the global financial crisis late last year, but within the last few months a number of mostly Japanese investors have again shown interest in our project,” he said.

Although no new deals have yet been inked, the companies interested in setting up shop in the Chantrea district, Svay Rieng province, SEZ are involved in industries such as transport, garments and pharmaceutical products, he added.

Chao-Kuan said that the six factories presently occupying the site exported a total of US$65 million in goods over the first 10 months of 2009, a 30 percent increase compared with the same period last year.

The firms operating at the SEZ manufacture bicycles, construction materials such as screws, and shoes for the European market, and plastic foam, chair cushions and plastic bags destined for the United States, in addition to wetsuits and diving gear for other consumers.

The Pi Que garment factory from Russia has indefinitely halted its plans to produce women’s undergarments at the SEZ, he said. The company “bought land in our zone last year, but has not begun construction because of the impact of the global financial crisis”.

About 157 hectares of land has been set aside for the zone. Development on the first phase of 57 hectares started in 2005, and factories began operations at the site last year.

Developing the second phase of infrastructure and remaining 100 hectares at the SEZ will begin early next year to accommodate a further 20 factories, Chao-Kuan said.

All of the factories’ international imports and exports were being conducted through Vietnamese ports in Ho Chi Minh City, he said.

The Bavet International Border Checkpoint with Vietnam had collected $3.85 million over the first nine months of the year, a 52 percent rise in customs and excise tariffs revenue from $2.52 million in the same period last year, said acting Director Khiev Sameth.

“In the first half of the year, imports and exports through the checkpoint had declined slightly, but the numbers began turning around in July, and sharply increased in recent months,” he said.

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