The value of imports and exports passing through the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) reached $2.001 billion in the first 11 months of 2021, marking a 40 per cent year-on-year surge from $1.429 billion, the operator reported at the weekend.

The volume of goods handled at the Kingdom’s largest industrial zone in terms of size and occupancy was buoyed by bumper orders with tenants, which in turn fuelled demand for raw materials to fulfil them.

“SSEZ is committed to maintaining the growth of imports and exports of commodities at higher levels,” developer and operator Sihanoukville Special Economy Zone Co Ltd said.

Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on December 13 that SSEZ consistently records positive performance in terms of imports and exports, despite persistent Covid threats to national and global economic growth.

He suggested that rising imports to the industrial park were not inherently a bad thing, arguing that a large share is made up of raw materials for use in production, and hence an uptick would signal that there are more orders coming in, which he said means that the tenants’ products and services are in high demand.

Preah Sihanouk expects to attract more investment soon, after Prime Minister Hun Sen in June signed a sub-decree to turn the province’s capital Sihanoukville into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”.

There are a host of major construction projects in the provincial pipeline, including road infrastructure, large buildings, and chief among them, an expansion of the deep-sea container port, which is scheduled to break ground early next year.

In addition, a new investment law, promulgated in mid-October, offers a wide range of incentives for investors.

Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) president Sin Chanthy said the transport and overall economic situation is edging closer to pre-Covid levels, with goods flowing in and out of the country, keeping the sector remarkably busy.

He attributed this improvement to successful Covid management and the vaccination campaign, which he said makes the production chain more responsive to orders and encourages more investment in the Kingdom.

“Growth in logistics confirms economic growth. If transportation is robust, production receives a great deal of impetus accordingly,” Chanthy said.

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

There are currently 39 special economic zones in the Kingdom, according to the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).