Located on the southwest coast of Cambodia, Preah Sihanouk province, which houses the country’s only deep sea port, would be upgraded to a multi-purpose special economic zone (SEZ) to increase its economic potential to investors, a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on June 9 read.

The decision follows Sihanoukville Autonomous Port’s plan to expand, with the construction of a new container port measuring 350 metres and the dredging of the sea to a depth of 14.5m.

According to the sub-decree, the upgrade would require the collaboration of several ministries to ensure the formulation of land use and management policies to facilitate the transformation, strategic and technical guidance, and technical and financial cooperation with national and international development partners.

Kheang Phearum, spokesman for the Sihanoukville provincial administration, clarified that the government had previously declared its intention to turn the province into a multi-purpose SEZ but there was no mechanism to implement it. The new sub-decree provides the workings now.

Meanwhile, the container port, which would allow large ships with a 5,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) container capacity to dock, would see construction kicking off early 2022, with completion expected by the end of 2024.

Cambodia Logistics Association president Sinn Chanthy told The Post that the government’s clear policy on the status upgrade for the province would help accelerate development in all areas.

“Investors prefer locations that are favorable for transportation, especially water. It is popular and is an inexpensive means of transportation to international destinations. About 80 per cent of Cambodian goods that are exported pass through the Sihanoukville port,” Chanthy added.