A prominent Russian lawmaker has expressed his commitment to lure more enterprises from his country to invest in and do business in Preah Sihanouk province, especially in fields such as technology and heavy industry, according to a senior provincial official.

Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor Long Dimanche told The Post on February 27 that State Duma Committee on International Affairs first deputy chairman Alexey Chepa indicated as much at a meeting with Preah Sihanouk governor Kuoch Chamroeun a day earlier, during his visit to the province.

Dimanche explained that Chepa’s interest in Preah Sihanouk was motivated by rapid development, as well as his apparent appreciation of government policy on public investment in infrastructure, as part of broader efforts to turn the coastal province into a Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone.

“In addition, Alexey V Chepa has promised to encourage Russian companies that have been investing in Koh Puos Island to continue development, even in the context of the Covid-19 crisis,” he said.

At the meeting, Chamroeun urged Russian entities to continue investing in Preah Sihanouk’s tourism industry, despite noting that trade relations between the two countries remain limited, the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration said in a statement on February 26.

The governor confirmed that Preah Sihanouk had seen marked development in all areas, underpinned by vital works such as a deep-sea port, international airport, railway, and expressway connecting the province to the capital, which opens a world of opportunities for investors looking to tap into provincial markets.

He recommended tourism development on Koh Krabei island in Prey Nop district’s Ream commune, which he said is renown as a model for investment in Preah Sihanouk due to its neat arrangement and environmental protection system.

“As Preah Sihanouk now has an international airport that allows aircraft to fly across continents, it is hoped that HE Alexey Chepa will help inspire more Russian tourists and investors to invest in Preah Sihanouk in the future,” the statement quoted Chamroeun as saying.

He also noted that Russia was the third biggest source of tourists to Preah Sihanouk, after China and Vietnam.

Chepa explained that his visit to Preah Sihanouk served to further enhance economic and cultural cooperation, especially now that the province is growing rapidly, evidenced by the development of rich infrastructure and high-rise buildings, according to the statement.

“When I came to Preah Sihanouk a few years ago, I didn’t really see many Russians around. But once Russian sightseers began recounting how amicably they had been welcomed by Cambodians, it inspired more and more Russian tourists to want to make the trip to Cambodia,” he was quoted as saying.

Chepa expects the number of Russian travellers to the Kingdom – and especially to Preah Sihanouk – to remain on a positive growth trajectory.

The lawmaker also called for more direct flights between Sihanoukville and Siem Reap town.

He also voiced intent to invite Preah Sihanouk and Russian delegations on visits in the future aimed at forming sister-city ties between Sihanoukville and Veliky Novgorod in Russia.

Trade between Cambodia and Russia reached $204.3 million in 2020, according to the latest data from the UN International Trade Statistics Database (UNCOMTRADE) provided by online platform Trading Economics.

Cambodian imports from and exports to Russia amounted to $13.72 million and $190.58 million, respectively. “Pearls, precious stones, metals, coins” were Cambodia’s top imports, reaching $9.94 million, while “articles of apparel, knit or crocheted” were the Kingdom’s main exports, amounting to $89.62 million.