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Royal Group planning 100sq km SEZ in Botum Sakor National Park

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Koh Kong deputy provincial governor Sok Sothy. KOH KONG PROVINCIAL ADMINISTRATION

Royal Group planning 100sq km SEZ in Botum Sakor National Park

The Royal Group of Companies Ltd, a leading local conglomerate, will invest in the construction of a 100sq km special economic zone (SEZ) in Koh Kong province’s Botum Sakor National Park.

This is an apparent bid to capitalise on the ongoing inflow of investment to the coastal province bordering Thailand.

The details of the project were discussed at a meeting on November 23 with Koh Kong deputy provincial governor Ouk Pheaktra in attendance.

In a press release, the provincial administration said participants at “the meeting agreed to and supported the development of the SEZ in Botum Sakor National Park to help improve people’s livelihoods, while a working group requested to minimise [negative] impact on the local residents and biodiversity at the lowest level.

“In addition, the team will perform on-site inspections in Botum Sakor National Park in an effort to study in detail any specific geographical situation.”

Deputy provincial governor and spokesman Sok Sothy told The Post on Tuesday that the company has received approval from the government and the Ministry of Environment for the national park-based SEZ.

Once it settles on a specific site, he said it’ll have to undergo a detailed environmental impact assessment under the review of the ministry and other relevant authorities.

The provincial administration noted that Royal Group expressed an interest in the province’s southern Botum Sakor district, potentially in its southernmost Ta Noun and Thma Sar communes.

Sothy said: “Since the government has already approved the SEZ, the company needs to find a location that is suitable for its investment, and to ensure not to harm the wildlife habitats and environment.

“As for the province’s position, we always abide by the decisions of the government, and we welcome the diverse range of investments that come into our province – not only do they prop up the national economy, but also support our provincial economy.”

Sothy said Koh Kong has only one SEZ, which is located in Neang Kok village in Mondul Seima district’s Bak Khlang commune across the Koh Pao River from the provincial capital and employs tens of thousands of people.

He voiced his optimism that Royal Group would choose a suitable location soon, pointing out that Botum Sakor National Park spans 170,000ha across many of the province’s districts.

The value of exports from the Kingdom’s SEZs were to the tune of $2.688 billion last year, representing a 27 per cent increase from 2018, statistics from the Ministry of Economy and Finance show.

At the end of last year, there were 465 companies operating in the Kingdom’s 54 SEZs employing more than 100,000 workers, the figures show.

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