Deputy director general pegs losses to global slowdown, Cai Mep competition
Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (PAS), Cambodia’s largest shipping facility, reported a 20 percent decline in revenues for the first 10 months of the year compared to the same period in 2008.
The port has brought in US$19.2 million so far this year. Total revenue in 2008 was $28.8 million, according to statistics released by PAS.
The port’s gross throughput dropped 11 percent, and the number of containers handled declined 23 percent, nearly identical to cargo traffic figures reported by PAS in September.
Though not directly correlated, the 20 percent drop in revenues at PAS closely follows the Ministry of Commerce’s reported 22 percent decline in garment export revenues for the first 10 months of 2009 compared to the same period last year, another sign of the Cambodian export economy’s dependence on the garment sector.
“The drop in revenues can be attributed in part to the global economic crisis, but also to the launch of the Cai Mep deepwater port in southern Vietnam, which has been operating since June,” PAS Deputy Director General Va Sonath said.
Va Sonath said that Cai Mep, linked directly to Phnom Penh via the Mekong River, was absorbing import shipments from East Asian countries such as China, Taiwan and South Korea. Cambodian exports bound for the same countries, mainly garments manufactured in Phnom Penh and farm products from the Vietnam border area, ship from Cai Mep as well, he said.
“On the other hand, we believe that most goods shipped to European countries probably still go through PAS, and enterprises in Preah Sihanouk province are still using our port,” he said.
Norng Soyeth, director of marketing in the Special Eonomic Zone Department at PAS, said PAS is building facilities for a neighbouring special economic zone to push up the volume of traffic through the port.
Japanese contractor Dai Ho Co broke ground on the 70-hectare project in October. The work is expected to be completed sometime in 2011.
The $33 million investment by PAS was made possible by a soft loan from Japan.
At the end of September, the government announced that PAS would be one of three state-owned firms to list on the forthcoming stock exchange. The other two firms were the Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority and Telecom Cambodia.
The presence of these companies on the exchange is intended to have a stabilising effect on the new market, a role that PAS says it can still fulfill despite the decline in revenues.
“Despite the revenues decline, the port’s annual profit is still stable, the same amount as last year, because we have minimised expenses as much as possible in order to avoid losses.
“So this should not affect the plan to list on the bourse,” said Va Sonath, adding that he could not remember the exact figures for annual profits.