The value of imports and exports passing through the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) reached $1.570 billion in the first eight months of 2021, climbing by 40.93 per cent year-on-year from $1.114 billion, the operator reported.

Sihanoukville Special Economy Zone Co Ltd said in a statement that “this achievement is inseparable” from the government’s “effective measures to prevent Covid-19” and the efforts of enterprises and workers in the SSEZ.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on October 19 that although Covid-19 has affected production chains and orders around the world, the SSEZ had not seen a decline in imports, production, processing, or exports for the duration of the pandemic.

The continued growth in the SSEZ’s manufacturing and export activities appear to corroborate that investment in the industrial park has not slowed down, he said.

He suggested that the positive momentum in the volume of imports and exports was also due to the SSEZ’s proximity to Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, the Kingdom’s largest sea freight port, as well as the fact that the enterprises and factories based in the SSEZ were paying closer attention to the fight against Covid-19.

That volume will rise even higher down the line, as the government rolls out progressively more incentives looking to attract more investors to Cambodia, “especially when the situation of Covid-19 is under control”, he posited.

The SSEZ is located in Preah Sihanouk province, which the government aims to transform into one of the Kingdom’s main economic poles, due to its geographical location along the coastline and existing major infrastructure such as an airport and deep-sea port, making it favourable for development, Vanak contended.

On October 18, the Ministry of Economy and Finance awarded a master plan consultancy contract to a top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of the province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre.

The master plan will also serve as a roadmap to allow state and private stakeholders and development partners to easily coordinate and carry out activities, based on common goals and clearly-defined responsibilities.

The plan will set out guidelines to steer resource mobilisation, business activity, investments, and economic development attraction strategies, tailored to achieve the long-term visions of the government.

Cambodia’s non-gold exports reached $11.010 billion in the first eight months of this year, surging by 20.4 per cent year-on-year, while the analogous imports amounted to $14.6 billion, marking a 26.7 per cent year-on-year jump, the ministry reported.

According to the operator, SSEZ handled imports and exports worth $1.565 billion last year, an increase of 26.52 per cent over 2019.

SSEZ lies on a whopping 11.13sq km in Bit Traing commune’s Pou Thoeung village in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nop district.

Established in 2008 and purportedly committed to creating multinational investment platforms for companies around the world, SSEZ is a partnership between by Jiangsu Taihu Cambodia International Economic Cooperation Investment Co Ltd and the Cambodia International Investment Development Group Co Ltd (CIIDG).