The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) has approved final registration certificates to four non-garment projects with a combined total of nearly $32 million invested in them, that it says is set to create 2,470 jobs.

The CDC said on April 11 that its Cambodia Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Board has decided to issue the certificates to four companies, including Covered Bridge Cabinetry Manufacturing Co Ltd for its $8.8 million furniture factory in Preah Sihanouk province’s Cambodian Zhejiang Guoji SEZ and SDJC Steel and Wire (Cambodia) Products Co Ltd for its $1 million electrical equipment and plastics factory in Svay Rieng province’s Tay Seng SEZ. The two projects are expected to create 700 and 270 jobs respectively.

The other two projects are Solteam Electronics (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s $14.7 million electrical and electronic components factory in the capital’s recently-renamed Royal Group Phnom Penh SEZ, which is set to create 900 jobs, and Wendua Packaging (Cambodia) Co Ltd $7.3 million packaging and printing factory in Svay Rieng province’s Shandong Sunshell SEZ, which will be expected to create 600 jobs.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that although the Covid-19 crisis is not yet over, the number of companies investing in the Kingdom has grown steadily.

He noted that these new projects have distinguished themselves by being diversified from the textile sector, which Cambodia’s economy has been historically reliant on.

Vanak added that the CDC’s approval of such multi-sectoral investment projects creates new job opportunities, while also increasing the skill and efficiency of the Cambodian workforce, leading them to be able to secure well-paid jobs.

Welcoming such projects “will not only help strengthen Cambodia’s economy, but will also expand Cambodia’s product [offerings], making them more diverse, as well as expand its export markets”, he said.

Vanak urged the projects’ parent companies to ensure that the products produced comply with labour laws, standards, quality and environmental regulations.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng said that more investors are investing in the Kingdom due to several socio-political factors including the attainment of political stability, the attractive new Law on Investment introduced last year, the Kingdom’s free trade agreement (FTA) with China and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

He also highlighted the upcoming Cambodia-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA) as being particularly enticing for foreign entities.

As Cambodia increases its number of export markets, it will also ramp up its production of new products so as to meet the increased orders placed, Heng said.

“We really want more, and diversified, investment in all sectors to be able to avoid putting all our eggs in just a couple of baskets,” he said.

According to Heng, in addition to the garment sector, Cambodia has been receiving investment in a number of priority sectors including agriculture, agro-industry, mining, energy, electronic components, electricity and services.

In the first 11 months of 2021, the CDC agreed to issue final registration certificates for 107 new private investment projects that are located outside of SEZs, a drop of 34 projects or 24.11 per cent year-on-year, the Ministry of Economy and Finance reported.

These projects involve registered capital investment of $1.716 billion, down by 72.8 per cent year-on-year from $6.3 billion, and could create about 89,000 new jobs, or 20.3 per cent fewer versus the same period in 2020, ministry figures indicated.