Cambodia could see massive investments as a result of China’s latest pledge to funnel an enormous sum into developing infrastructure as part of its New Silk Road initiative, an analyst said yesterday.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged a mammoth $124 billion to develop his country’s Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious plan unveiled in 2013 that will funnel investment into building rail, road and maritime transport infrastructure to expand trade links between China, Asia, Africa and Europe. Addressing a summit on the initiative in Beijing on Sunday, he said “Trade is the important engine of economic development.”
Chheang Vannarith, senior fellow at the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said China’s investment into Cambodia was closely linked to the Belt and Road Initiative.
“More investments, especially in infrastructure, are expected to flow from China into Cambodia,” he said, adding that the Cambodian government should look to attract more Chinese investment in innovation and the digital economy.
He said the Kingdom should use this opportunity to develop its national logistics strategy in order to improve its logistics performance and competitiveness.
“The Belt and Road Initiative is linking the domestic logistics network with the region, as well as job creation,” he added.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is attending the summit in Beijing, said on his official Facebook page yesterday that the Belt and Road initiative was “based on win-win cooperation”.
The premier said he met the heads of three major Chinese companies on the summit’s sidelines yesterday to discuss their investments in Cambodian infrastructure.
The meetings included a session with Cao Peixi, president of China Huaneng Group, which is collaborating with Cambodia’s Royal Group to develop the Lower Sesan 2 hydropower project in Stung Treng province. He also met Lu Wenjun, chairman of China National Heavy Machinery Corporation, to discuss the company’s investment in the Stung Tatai hydropower project in Koh Kong province.
The third meeting was with Liu Qitao, chairman of China Communications Construction Co Ltd, which has already invested over $1.6 billion in 16 road construction projects in the Kingdom. The company is involved in railway and port construction, and is building a 190-kilometre expressway between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, with construction slated to begin by the end of the year.