The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) notices issued month-to-date reveal that it has greenlit seven new projects worth over $81 million, all in the manufacturing industry: five involved in textiles and two in light bulbs.

Including the two projects covered in the latest notice on January 16, the CDC – the government’s highest decision-making body for large-scale investments – indicates that the seven ventures will create an estimated 12,173 new jobs.

Technomate (Cambodia) Technology Co Ltd’s factory will produce LED, string and solar lights as well as plastics and repair tools, while Technomate (Cambodia) Precision Metal Co Ltd’s project will churn out light bulbs, solar lights and electrical appliances.

Both of these are located in Svay Rieng Giga Resource Special Economic Zone (SEZ), and each has registered investment capital of $10 million and is expected to bring 750 new jobs.

Generally seen as a type of commercial oasis, an SEZ is a specially-defined region within a jurisdiction’s borders that is subject to different – typically more liberal – legal, administrative and economic regulations than elsewhere in the same jurisdiction, and can include unique tax, logistical or one-stop service arrangements designed to attract business and investment.

On the textiles front, Aroma Success Garment Co Ltd’s $36.6 million apparel factory in Kampong Speu province’s Samrong Tong district, and Qi Heng Xin Factory Co Ltd’s $8.8 million bag and footwear plant along National Road 21 in Kandal province’s Takhmao town are to deliver 3,158 and 2,930 new jobs, respectively.

Windara International Co Ltd’s $5.4 million knapsack, sleeping bag, tent, apparel and bedding factory, Yue Wing Cheong Manufactory Co Ltd’s $5.4 million bag venture, and Xin Shun Jie (Cambodia) Leather Co Ltd’s $5.2 million bag and apparel plant – all in Kampong Speu’s Kong Pisei district – are anticipated to generate 2,714, 738 and 1,133 new jobs, according to the CDC.

The Ministry of Commerce lists addresses in the Greater China region for officers of all seven companies except for Qi Heng Xin Factory which was not found in the business registry as of press time: Taiwan recorded for Aroma Success Garment and Windara International, and mainland China for the remaining four.

Speaking to The Post on January 17, Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, chalked up the steady flow of new investments to political stability and a large pool of affordable labour, as well as the private sector’s dedication to raising the profile of Cambodian products globally and gaining recognition for the quality thereof.

He also cited the government’s overall efforts to increase the attractiveness of the Cambodian market, including by streamlining investment laws, stepping up international cooperation geared towards boosting exports, striking bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTA), and building roads, ports, airports and other passenger and freight transport infrastructure.

“The growth in investment means that investors are seeing the opportunities and potential that Cambodia is endowed with,” Vanak said.

Although acknowledging that five of the seven projects unveiled by the CDC this month are in textiles, Vanak commented that there has been a progressive increase in the diversity of ventures over the “last two or three” years.

The more varied investments in a country are, “the more positive it will be for the strength and growth of the national economy”, he said.

In a previous interview, Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), the Kingdom’s apex business association, affirmed that the CCC is working to iron out domestic and international issues, as well as to highlight the Kingdom’s strengths to investors, as things generally improve in the production and export domains.

He voiced confidence that Cambodia’s FTAs would continue to entice investors, listing as prime examples the bilateral deals with China and South Korea as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

Heng also shared that the CCC has opened representative offices in Canada and Japan to more effectively attract investors to the Kingdom.

The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) reported the cumulative total FDI inflows in the Kingdom between August 5, 1994 and December 31, 2021 at 168.8 trillion riel ($41.0 billion), up 11.2 per cent from the nearly 152 trillion riel recorded by end-2020.

Broken down by sector, finance accounted for the lion’s share at $9.4 billion or 22.9 per cent, followed by manufacturing ($8.5 billion; 20.8%), real estate ($4.9 billion; 12%), hotels and restaurants ($4.4 billion; 10.7%), agriculture ($4.2 billion; 10.3%), electricity ($2.6 billion; 6.2%) and construction ($1.6 billion; 4.1%), while other sectors comprised $5.3 billion, or 13 per cent.

For context, August 5, 1994 was the day when the late King Norodom Sihanouk signed Royal Decree No 03/NS/94 promulgating the old Law on Investment and establishing the CDC.