Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has announced his continued support for deep-sea port development in Preah Sihanouk province, saying that it contributes to the development of Cambodia, and pledged to maintain financial assistance for the project.
Kishida made the declaration at a working meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen at the 4th Asia-Pacific Water Summit on April 23.
Hun Sen said that the development of the Preah Sihanouk deep-sea port will accelerate the economic development of Cambodia by boosting export of the Kingdom’s agricultural products and facilitating direct imports, no longer having to rely on regional ports.
During the meeting, Kishida also accepted Hun Sen’s proposal to increase bilateral relations between Cambodia and Japan from a strategic partnership to that of a comprehensive strategic partnership.
Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor Long Dimanche told The Post that, on behalf of the provincial administration, he expresses his gratitude to Prime Minister Kishida and the Japanese government for their “continued support” for the development of Sihanoukville Autonomous Port to be able to accommodate large ships from around the world.
He said that good diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Japan and the relationship between Hun Sen and Kishida have had a significant positive impact for Cambodia, especially with regards to development of the international shipping facility.
The Sihanoukville port is only 9.5m deep, making it impossible for large ships to dock. At present, these vessels have to transfer their cargo to smaller ships at Thai, Vietnamese and Singaporean ports which then travel to Cambodia, making shipping costs high and non-competitive.
“We [Cambodia] and Japan have been planning the second and third phases to expand the depth of the port to 14.5m, which will be able to accommodate 80 per cent of large ships. The third step, which Japan will help with, will be up to 17.5m, and will allow all kinds of cargo ships to dock in Cambodia,” he said.
Dimanche said that the expansion and development of the Sihanoukville deep-sea port is necessary because it is an important economic gateway for Cambodian trade.
The Cambodian government, together with Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Japanese government, is currently in the first phase of expanding the port of Sihanoukville, which will allow ships with a depth of 13.5m to dock by 2025, from its current 9.5m.
The second and third phases are planned to commence in 2029, which will allow ships with a depth of 15m to dock, enabling the Kingdom to welcome 97 per cent of the world’s ships.