The private sector has expressed support for the plan to establish a green special economic zone (SEZ) in Koh Kong province, viewing it as a role model for others to emulate. Cambodia currently utilises “almost 70%” clean energy nationwide. 

The green SEZ is expected to be an eco-friendly hub for exports and production, potentially attracting considerable foreign investment.

Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth met with UK minister for Indo-Pacific Anne-Marie Trevelyan on March 5 to discuss the UK’s support for constructing the zone.

During the meeting, Pornmoniroth expressed gratitude for the UK’s ongoing support for Cambodian products and the initiative to establish the SEZ, which is anticipated to contribute to the country’s socio-economic development.

Trevelyan commended the cooperation between the two kingdoms, mentioning the UK’s commitment to promoting investment in Cambodia, especially in preparing for the construction of the zone and attracting new investors from the UK.

In late December, discussions about the project took place involving the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), the finance ministry, Koh Kong Provincial Administration and UK ambassador to Cambodia Dominic Williams. 

With an estimated value of $400-800 million, the project is set to commence later this year.

The initiative aims to transform the coastal province into a green industry hub, focusing on renewable energy, sustainable waste management and eco-friendly practices in sectors like automobile, electronics and textiles manufacturing.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC), told The Post on March 20 that the project represents an important development for the country, given its substantial use of renewable energy. 

“We fully support the establishment of a green SEZ and are keen to understand how it will operate and what differentiates it from traditional zones. We reckon that the investment capital might be larger and we welcome the investment,” he stated.

“Currently, our country utilises over 60% clean energy from solar and hydro dams, and we anticipate more clean energy from wind power soon. I believe a green SEZ in our country will serve as an exemplary model for other SEZs,” he added.

Sam Soknoeun, CEO of Sam SN Realty, told The Post that SEZs are increasingly crucial in attracting both national and international investors. 

He highlighted the ease of handling import-export documentation and tax procedures in SEZs. 

Soknoeun pointed out that SEZs are not only convenient for investors but also play an important role in generating employment and income for individuals and the nation. 

He identified the province as a promising location for investment in SEZs, citing its advantageous position for exporting to international markets. 

“The development of SEZs is a strategy for boosting national economic growth,” he stated.

On December 19, 2023, a CDC representative met with provincial governor Mithona Phuthong and a UK embassy representative in the province.

During the meeting, it was conveyed that the selection of Koh Kong for the SEZ was based on its availability of over 300ha of suitable vacant land for long-term development.

The province’s location, bordering Thailand and the Gulf of Thailand, presents advantageous trade opportunities and an appealing investment environment, as stated by the provincial administration.

According to the CDC, from 2006 to mid-2023, Cambodia has seen the establishment and operation of 24 SEZs, with 655 companies and factories registered, representing an investment of approximately $8.1 billion. 

The zones primarily focus on industries such as garments, footwear, travel products, auto parts, electronics, car tyres and automobile and bicycle assembly.