The volume of imports and exports handled at the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) clocked in at about $437 million in the first two months of 2022, marking a 42.81 per cent rise year-on-year from $306 million, according to a statement released by the operator.

For reference, company statistics show that January accounted for “more than $217 million”, which had been a 45.64 per cent rise over $149 million in January 2021.

Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor Long Dimanche, who recently led an inspection team to assess developments at the SSEZ, ascribed this growth and production gains at the industrial park to Cambodia’s robust trade and economic ties with major markets such as China, the US, EU, South Korea and Japan.

The senior provincial official also cited the SSEZ’s favourable geographical location, as well as political stability, effective Covid-19 management and “smooth” progress of the vaccination campaign in the Kingdom.

He told The Post on March 17: “Effective control of Covid-19 and the success of the Royal Government’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign, as well as good cooperation with other countries around the world, has enabled Cambodia to maintain its stability and continuous economic growth, especially at this difficult time.

“All these positives are reflected in the continuous growth of Cambodia’s exports.”

According to Dimanche, SSEZ currently houses more than 300 factories and enterprises which employ between 80,000 and 100,000 workers, and many more companies are planning to enter the industrial zone.

He added that freight operations at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port have also increased significantly, as it steadily forges ahead with development and capacity expansion plans.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng said that orders and production at the SSEZ have not slowed down over the past two years, even as Covid devastated whole value chains across the globe and the economies of virtually every country.

Much like Dimanche, Heng ascribed this encouraging performance to a favourable investment law and geographical location, relatively strong incentives, a high level of investor confidence, a diverse skilled labour force, and a slew of benefits availed under Cambodia’s free trade agreements (FTA).

He predicted that the volume of imports and exports passing through the SSEZ would continue to grow, especially exports to Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) member states.

The RCEP covers 15 countries: the 10 ASEAN member states – Cambodia, Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – and five other Indo-Pacific nations, namely Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

In 2021, the value of imports and exports passing through the SSEZ were to the tune of $2.234 billion, a 42.75 per cent uptick from $1.565 billion a year earlier, according to the operator. This follows a 26.52 per cent rise in 2020 versus $1.237 billion in 2019, previous statistics show.

The SSEZ is one of the 39 special economic zones (SEZ) established in the Kingdom as of 2021, according to the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).