Director blames economic crisis, competition from Vietnam’s new Cai Mep deepwater port
- 10.5pc drop in tonnage in first 8 months at Sihanoukville
- 23pc fall in containers handled
- 14pc in port revenues during same period to $16.5m
Source: Sihanoukville Autonomous Port
THE Sihanoukville Autonomous Port (PAS), Cambodia’s largest shipping facility, recorded a drop in cargo traffic for the first eight months of 2009 compared to the same period last year.
According to the latest figures supplied to the Post, gross tonnage coming through the port fell by 10.5 percent, while the number of containers handled fell by 23 percent.
PAS General Director Lou Kim Chhun attributed the drop to the global economic slowdown and this June’s launch of the Cai Mep deepwater port in southern Vietnam. Before the opening of Cai Mep, exports produced in Phnom Penh had to be transported overland to PAS. Now exporters have a faster, cheaper route: straight down the Mekong River to Cai Mep and global markets beyond, particularly Singapore and the United States.
Lou Kim Chhun added that alongside competition from Cai Mep, traffic at PAS was “hurt by a fall in garment and textile exports to the US and European countries, along with declining imports of autos and construction materials”.
PAS reported US$16.5 million in revenues for the first eight months of 2009, a 14 percent drop on the same period last year.
Lou Kim Chhun said that PAS was rushing to create a special economic zone (SEZ) next to the port in response to the launch of Cai Mep. Work on the SEZ, financed mainly by a soft loan from Japan, will kick off next month on an area of 70 hectares.
“It will cost about $33 million to develop infrastructure, water and power,” said Lou Kim Chhun. “The zone will provide a concrete foundation for the port’s activities. We expect assembly plants for all kinds of vehicles, electronic goods, shoes, clothing, even umbrellas – these are goods manufactured for export, so they will push up the volume of traffic.”
The proposed SEZ would be completed in early 2011, he said.