Kampong Seila Special Economic Zone Co Ltd on July 29 signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Environmental Protection Industry Associations of Cambodia (EPIAC) in a bid to promote environmental protection at the namesake special economic zone (SEZ) in Preah Sihanouk province and enhance its appeal for investors, according to the head of the SEZ’s developer and operator.

Kampong Seila Special Economic Zone Co Ltd director-general Keo Mom, who is also CEO of LY LY Food Industry Co Ltd (Lyly Food), one of the Kingdom’s largest food processors, told The Post that she signed the MoU along with EPIAC executive president Guo Yangping at the environmental organisation’s offices.

Even as the northern Preah Sihanouk SEZ receives a series of new investment projects, Mom underscored that the developer “never” neglects to consider environmental impacts, commenting that a sustainable investment is one that is environmentally responsible.

“This MoU is designed to protect the environment, with EPIAC to represent Kampong Seila SEZ in studying and analysing environmental impacts with companies wishing to invest.

“All investments, including those involving the installation of factories or the construction of other buildings, always leave an impact on the environment, in forms such as toxic fume emissions, odours and sewage,” she said.

Proper environmental management will not only help the SEZ’s workers as well as residents of the surrounding area, but play a part in global efforts to ensure a “beautiful and long life” for all of the planet’s inhabitants, she said, commenting that investors are gradually making their way back to Cambodia following the Covid-19 lull.

Kampong Seila Special Economic Zone is located on an 800ha plot in Chamkar Luong commune, Kampong Seila district, Preah Sihanouk.

EPIAC gained the status of a legal entity on September 4, 2020, the day of entry into the Ministry of Interior’s registry.

The Kampong Seila Special Economic Zone Co Ltd is not the first industrial zone developer to work with EPIAC. The environmental organisation on November 12, 2020 penned a similar MoU with Chinese-owned industrial park developer and operator QiLu (Cambodia) Special Economic Zone Co Ltd seeking to set a new precedent for environmentally-friendly design and construction.

In a previous interview with The Post shortly after the deal with QiLu was signed, EPIAC executive vice-president Choon Yik Thong stressed that the organisation’s main purpose is to “protect the environment in Cambodia and engage in reducing environmental pollution.

“We are to actively participate in the formulation of national environmental-protection industry development plans, economic and technical policies, environmental product standards, environmental-engineering technical specifications and other technical standards involved in the environmental-protection industry.

“We also formulate rules for the environmental protection industry, regulate the behaviour of corporate members and establish a self-discipline mechanism for the environmental-protection industry to improve its overall quality and maintain the international image of Cambodia’s investment environment.

“We promote the application of circular-economy industrial-chain technology in industrial parks, including centralised water supply, sewage treatment, recycled-water use, central heating, clean-energy power generation – such as solar energy and water vapour, hazardous solid waste treatment, et cetera.

“The primary objective of the association is to unite individual investors, enterprises, civil society and organisations across various industries in Cambodia and promote the development of the Kingdom’s environmental-protection cause.

“We’ll also work directly with SEZs, industrial zones and parks, individual factories and companies, providing them with relevant assistance and ensuring that they carry out their business activities within the confines of our rules and regulations,” he said.

Meanwhile, import-export activities at the 11.13sq km Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), the Kingdom’s largest SEZ in terms of size and occupancy, rose by 38.23 per cent to $1.374 billion in the first half of 2022 from $994 million a year ago.

In 2021, the value of imports and exports passing through the SSEZ stood at $2.234 billion, up 42.75 per cent from $1.565 billion a year earlier, according to data provided by the operator. This follows a 26.52 per cent rise in 2020 versus $1.237 billion in 2019.

Data from the General Department of Customs and Excise showed that in the first half of 2022, Cambodia’s international trade totalled $27.244 billion or 20.158 per cent more than the corresponding period last year.

Of that, imports grew 11.913 per cent to $15.86472 billion, while exports were valued at worth $11.379 billion, up 33.913 per cent. The Kingdom’s trade deficit for the first half narrowed by 21.009 per cent year-on-year to $4.486 billion.