The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) on January 17 announced that it had approved final registration certificates for 10 investment projects across various sectors worth a staggering total of nearly $1.90 billion and expected to create 7,014 jobs.

And given the enormous amount of registered investment capital, observers have expressed great enthusiasm that the diverse range of ventures would help achieve and maintain strong economic growth.

The largest project was Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd’s $1.300 billion multi-purpose port with a logistics centre in Kampot province’s Bokor town that is set to generate 590 jobs, according to the CDC’s January 17 statement.

The runners-up were Cambodian Upper Tatay Hydropower Co Ltd’s $389 million 150MW hydropower plant on the Tatai river across Thma Bang and Koh Kong districts in Koh Kong province; and KBX Investment Co Ltd’s $129 million five-star hotel with 528 rooms on Monivong Boulevard in the capital’s Boeung Keng Kang III commune.

The two projects will employ 1,580 and 737 jobs, respectively, according to plans.

Set to create 1,867 jobs, number four was Longfuiter Anlong Veng Oddor Meanchey Agriculture Park Co Ltd’s plantations of bananas and other fruits worth a total of $51 million in the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng district in Oddar Meanchey province.

Ranking fifth and sixth, Academic Solar Energy Mfg Co Ltd’s 8.2 million solar panel manufacturing and assembly plant in northeastern Kandal province’s Khsach Kandal district; and TMH Poultry Co Ltd’s $5.7 million food production plant with chicken, duck, pork and beef processing and packaging facilities in northeastern Kampong Speu province’s Oudong district are respectively anticipated to provide 265 and 226 new jobs.

Two others, due to deliver 194 and 192 jobs, are Haopai Decoration Material (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s $4.2 million factory to manufacture rubber tiles and baseboards, floor mats and rug pads in western Kandal’s Ang Snuol district; and Cambodian Guoxing Yi Qun Lang Plywood Co Ltd’s $3.4 million plywood processing plant in Kampong Thom province’s southernmost district of Baray.

The CDC notes that a proportion of the wood to be processed at the plant will be locally-grown.

The other two projects are garment factories that are planned to bring 649 and 714 new jobs – Mutita Textile Social Enterprise Co Ltd’s $3.9 million plant in Battambang town and Independence Clothing (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s $3.1 million project in the capital’s Por Sen Chey district.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng heralded the latest string of CDC-approved projects as a fresh positive sign, saying they would provide new opportunities to foster greater economic growth during and after Covid-19 crisis.

The entry of investments across broader sets of sectors would reduce economic vulnerabilities associated with stagnation traps, as production rises and exports gain better market access around the world, he said.

“The steady growth in investments now is inseparable from its positive determinants such as political stability, legal reforms in investment, the entry into force of a free trade agreement [FTA] with China and the recently-signed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, as well as and higher rates of vaccination against the [Covid-19] virus,” Heng said.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath told The Post on January 18 that the projects which have been given the nod by the CDC year-to-date have been quite diverse, and not limited to light industry.

A more diversified portfolio of project will serve as a strong, reliable pillar of growth in the economy that would stand tall should any one sector encounter uncertain contingencies, he opined.

“This is a starting point, albeit an accomplishment that the government and private sector in Cambodia have earned through their onerous contributions to the development of new investment laws and subsequent bilateral and multilateral FTAs that are tailored to draw in more investment,” Sereyvath said.

He said the rash of new CDC-endorsed projects would bring in modern technologies into the Kingdom and accelerate diversification in production, supporting a transition away from garments.