Chinese investors are thronging the picturesque and sleepy Kampong Speu in search of opportunities amid the province’s ongoing socio-economic transformation, even as Covid-19 rages on, according to the provincial governor on March 17.
Vei Samnang told The Post that at least 20 new project proposals from Chinese investors for garment and footwear factories were in the works for the southwestern province, which starts just under 12km west of Phnom Penh’s limits along National Road 4.
The provincial governor said domestic and global Covid-19 vaccination rollouts bode well for investment in the Kingdom’s garment industry still reeling in pandemic doldrums.
He expressed hope that Kampong Speu would soon welcome the 20 new factories, with the expectation that production could start when the Covid-19 situation improves.
“The attributes that are creating more investment opportunities in Cambodia, as well as Kampong Speu province, are peace, a strategic geographical location, decent infrastructure and a labour force with promise.
“The seriousness of the Covid-19 outbreak has kept investors from coming into our country, slowing work to a crawl, but we’ll continue to forge ahead,” Samnang said.
He estimated that the 20 factories would require about 50,000 workers, noting that the province would be about 7,000 short.
Samnang claimed that there are 7,500 “factories and enterprises” operating in Kampong Speu, identifying 335 as “large-sized enterprises”.
He said there are 153 garment factories, 43 of which manufacture for export to the US.
Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training spokesperson Heng Sour told The Post in January that 129 factories closed in 2020, citing the Covid-19 pandemic as the primary cause for the loss of 71,202 jobs, of which 57,794 were held by women.
Job losses, however, were partially offset by the opening of new garment factories which have provided employment for 23,208 workers, of whom 17,638 are women, he said.
“Conditions in the labour sector are gradually normalising in the beginning of this year. The entire garment sector in Cambodia can return to normal if the Covid-19 crisis ends,” Sour said.
Cambodia attracted more than $3.5 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2019, an increase of nearly 12 per cent over 2018, thanks in part to Chinese investors who accounted for half of the investments, according to the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC).
In its “Macroeconomic and Banking Progress 2019 Report and 2020 Outlook” report, NBC said total FDI amounted to $3.588 billion, up 11.7 per cent from $3.212 billion 2018.
Of the total, the financial sector received FDI worth $2.385 billion, while the non-financial sector received $1.203 billion.
A breakdown of the data by country showed that Chinese FDIs accounted for 43 per cent, South Korean (11 per cent), Vietnamese (seven per cent), Japanese and Singaporean (six per cent), and other countries (27 per cent).