Construction work on a massive tyre factory in Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) is expected to be completed by May, according to Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration spokesman Kheang Phearom on January 3.

The official told The Post that General Tires Technology (Cambodia) Co Ltd has invested about $300 million to build the factory, which broke ground in early 2022 on a 28ha plot in SSEZ located in Bit Traing commune, Prey Nop district, Preah Sihanouk province.

The Ministry of Commerce’s business directory notes that General Tires Technology was previously named General Intelligence (Cambodia) Co Ltd, which Shanghai-listed Jiangsu General Science Technology Co Ltd identifies on its website as an “overseas subsidiary”.

Phearom claimed that the factory will have an annual production capacity of five million “small” tyres and 900,000 “large” ones, and employ about 1,600 workers – mostly locals.

“After construction … is completed, they’ll start production immediately,” he affirmed.

Although General Tires Technology plans to import raw materials from abroad, provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun at a recent meeting tried to persuade the company to look into Cambodian rubber, noting that most of it is exported, according to Phearom.

For context, in January-November 2022, Cambodia produced 317,282 tonnes of rubber latex, of which 311,286 tonnes or 98.11 per cent were exported, as reported by the General Directorate of Rubber (GDR).

The spokesman hailed the presence of the factory as a “positive sign”, and underlined that sourcing natural latex locally for the factory would promote job creation, the cultivation of rubber trees, and other economic activity, resulting in a host of benefits for the Kingdom.

“[But,] we’ll leave it to the company to discuss things with our rubber associations, [such as] the desired standards,” Phearom said.

Men Sopheak, director of rubber grower-cum-exporter Sopheak Nika Investment Agro-Industrial Plants Co Ltd, told The Post that he plans to persuade the people behind the factory to use local rubber in their operations, and get into the specifics of their requirements, chiefly in terms of prices and standards.

“Companies should consider sourcing locally rather than importing, as shipping and logistics costs can be expensive,” he said.

According to the GDR report, the average selling price of latex for the 11-month period ended November 30 was $1,444 per tonne, down $220 or 13.2 per cent from the same time in 2021.

As of 2021, Cambodia had 404,044ha dedicated to rubber production, with 310,193ha or 76.77 per cent mature and tapped for latex, which yielded 368 kilotonnes last year, or an average of just below 1,200kg per hectare, the report noted.