The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) has announced that it approved 113 new investment and expansion projects with combined registered capital of about $1.1 billion in the first half of the year, of which 65.38 per cent came from Chinese investors.

This represents an increase of 15 projects but a drop of about $1.9 billion – or nearly two-thirds – from January-June 2022, according to a new CDC report.

Local investors accounted for 19.86 per cent of the registered capital for the six-month period. Next on the list of nationalities were Vietnam (6.64%), Seychelles (3.31%), Thailand (1.77%), South Korea (1.70%), Samoa (0.60%), the US (0.49%), Singapore (0.18%) and Sweden (0.07%).

These undertakings are expected to generate about 122,000 new jobs, the report said, adding that the industrial sector accounted for the most projects, at 102 (90.27%), followed by agriculture and agro-industry (7), tourism (3) and infrastructure and other (1).

The January-June 2022 total for registered capital was buoyed by a handful of major projects, such as Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd’s $1.300 billion International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre in Kampot province’s Bokor town, which some have projected to cost $1.5 billion.

Others include Cambodia Upper Tatay Hydropower Co Ltd’s $389 million 150MW dam in Thma Bang and Koh Kong districts of Koh Kong province and General Intelligence (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s $297 million car tyre factory in Preah Sihanouk province’s Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ).

For comparison, regular CDC notices issued in January-June 2023 revealed that the council approved final registration certificates for 91 new private investment projects – both inside and outside of special economic zones (SEZ) – valued at a total $924.24 million and set to deliver an estimated 108,810 jobs.

However, these two totals – for registered capital and jobs expected to be created – were calculated by The Post using statistics that were provided individually. The actual totals may differ due to rounding.

In a July 11 interview with The Post, Royal Academy of Cambodia (RAC) economist Ky Sereyvath argued that the key factors shaping the Kingdom’s investment appeal include its bilateral and regional trade deals as well as the more recent changes to its legal investment framework, which he stressed are favourable across a range of sectors.

“Additionally, we’ve observed that we are receiving more medium-sized investments, necessitating government initiatives to promote SMEs [small- and medium-sized enterprises], encourage these investments and turn the sector toward exports.

China continues to be Cambodia’s top investor, primarily in the processing sector, largely due to the availability of cheaper labour, he said, remarking that Chinese players show a distinct interest in SEZ industrial facilities.