The volume of cargo passing through the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (SAP) rose 15 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared with the corresponding period last year. Experts say milled-rice exports and fuel imports contributed to the boost in activity.
From January to March, SAP, Cambodia’s largest port, processed a total of 759,897 tonnes, compared with 659,489 tonnes in the first three months of last year.
“The increase of foreign direct investment in Cambodia spurs the demand for imported material to support the industry’s increase,” port deputy director-general Ma Sunhout told the Post yesterday.
“Increasing exports of agricultural products, especially milled rice and cassava, are another big contribution to export activity in the port.”
The volume of exports in the first three months this year was 173,149 tonnes, and the total import volume was 586,747 tonnes. Fuel accounted for 37 per cent of total imports.
Economic expert Din Virak, the managing director of V Capital Institute, said developing countries such as Cambodia typically had an imbalance between import and export figures. He said the increasing imports of materials to support manufacturing was a positive development.
“We need to import material to support industry growth,” Virak said. “When imports of items such as machinery, fuel or cement increase, it means there is more investment activity to generate economic benefits.”
The main imports moving through the port include fuel, machinery, cement, steel and coal. Cambodia mainly exported garments and agricultural products.
Milled rice, Cambodia’s largest agricultural export, increased in the first quarter by 102 per cent, jumping from 35,579 tonnes in the first quarter of 2012 to 71,881 tonnes this year.
Kim Savuth, president of the Federation of Cambodian Rice Exporters, said increasing demand for Cambodian rice on the internat-ional markets could prove a big contributor to the growth of export activity.
“The quality of Cambodian rice is more recognised in international markets. The trend is going in the right direction,” Savuth said.
Sunhout said a “multi-purpose terminal” that would cost more than $75 million and would be financed by the Japanese government would be built at the port this year.