The volume of imports and exports handled at the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) clocked in at $1.749 billion in the first eight months of 2022, marking a 27.39 per cent rise year-on-year from $1.373 billion, according to the operator.

The corresponding figure for the July-August period appears to have been relatively low – somewhere in the range of 21.38-21.50 per cent of the eight month total, accounting for rounding, as opposed to one-quarter or 25 per cent – and represented a dip of roughly one per cent compared to the same two months in 2021.

For reference, in the January-June period, the value of imports and exports passing through the 11.13sq km SSEZ – the largest special economic zone (SEZ) by size and occupancy – was reported at $1.374 billion, a 38.23 per cent uptick from $994 million a year earlier.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng pinned the overall rise in the SSEZ’s import and exports this year on the industrial zone’s generally strategic position – in Pou Thoeung village, Bit Traing commune, Prey Nop district, Preah Sihanouk province just north of Sihanouk International Airport and not far from the coast as well as the Kingdom’s sole deep water port.

He also credited the growth to a favourable legal investment framework and an uptick in the number of tenants and other companies with supporting investments, as well as improved market access, copiously backed by the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Despite recent speed bumps, Heng believes that imports and exports handled by the SSEZ will further trend upwards, on the back of the new Law on Investment’s appeal and burgeoning number of project proposals planned for the zone that are approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the government’s highest decision-making body for large-scale investments.

Logistics and Supply Chain Business Association in Cambodia (Loscba) president Chea Chandara remarked that the SSEZ was a promising SEZ, and that a series of new factories are opening there.

Most of the factories in the SSEZ are owned and invested by Chinese investors, he said, highlighting garments, footwear, furniture, plank boards, and electronic components as some of the notable industries represented by the zone’s tenants.

“The value of the SSEZ’s imports and exports will swell as the number of new companies investing in them increases, which will also generate more jobs,” he said, stating that nationwide, production systems across the spectrum of sectors are by and large running smoothly.

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 surge from $1.565 billion a year earlier, which witnessed a 26.52 per cent jump over $1.237 billion in 2019, according to the operator.

General Department of Customs and Excise statistics show that, in the first eight months of 2022, Cambodia’s international trade totalled $37.406 billion, up by 21.48 per cent year-on-year from $30.793 billion.

Cambodia’s exports came in at $15.642 billion, soaring by 26.26 per cent year-on-year, and imports $21.764 billion, jumping by 18.26 per cent. The Kingdom’s trade deficit for the January-August period expanded by 1.78 per cent on a yearly basis to $6.122 billion.

Imports and exports all in all delivered a robust performance in the July-August period, with international trade amounting to $10.162 billion – or 27.17 per cent of the eight-month total – which marked a 25.16 per cent hike year-on-year. Over the two months, exports were $4.263 billion, up 9.54 per cent, and imports $5.899 billion, up 39.54 per cent.