The Ministry of Economy and Finance has encouraged the Urban Planning Design Institute of Shenzhen (UPDIS) to accelerate its preparation of a master plan to develop Preah Sihanouk province into a Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
In a May 25 meeting with the UPDIS to discuss the development of the Model Multi-Purpose SEZ, finance ministry permanent secretary of state Vongsey Vissoth declared that the master plan prepared by the UPDIS team would turn Preah Sihanouk into a new, eco-friendly development leader that uses modern technology and incorporates smart-city approaches.
The province would become a vibrant commercial, service and logistics hub in ASEAN that is integrated into regional and global production and supply chains, Vissoth added.
But he noted that the plan is “an ambitious plan that may face many challenges in its implementation.
“So it requires a high level of political will, the establishment of relevant policies and legal frameworks, and enough capacity to successfully implement it. It will turn this area into a modern cosmopolitan city … when complete, the Model Multi-Purpose SEZ will be a strong economic anchor in line with the vision of Cambodia to become a high middle income country by 2030,” he said.
Vissoth urged the UPDIS working group to continue their work on the draft report on the second phase of the master plan to produce proposals that are “realistic, consistent and comprehensive” ways to achieve such economic goals.
Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor Long Dimanche said that the study period for the master plan is 18 months – starting October 2021 – and that the team has regular meetings to monitor the progress of development.
“This master plan is a strategic plan with a long-term vision, so it needs to be studied in detail and clearly. We hope to create an iconic urban identity for Preah Sihanouk province in Southeast Asia and for it to become a region that uses ‘smart’ technology, is equipped with public services and facilities for world-class living, a ‘green city’ and an important economic and jobs hub,” he said.
Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath observed that the plan for Preah Sihanouk to become a Model Multi-Purpose SEZ is modelled after that of the South Korean port city of Busan.
“What the Cambodian government has explored with the master plan to build in this area is the potential to promote a coastal special trade and economic zone, which would be a convenient and concentrated area for trade, commerce, finance and development,” he said.
Sereyvath added that he believed the master plan contains a clear risk study, “especially on environmental issues such as how to properly reclaim land to avoid unsustainable development”, he said.
The master plan aims to turn the province into a national gateway and means to kickstart strategic development, by becoming an industrial and logistics centre for ASEAN and a regional financial and trade hub.