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S’ville set to become next economic pole

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The Two Golden Lions Roundabout with Chinese-invested construction projects in Sihanoukville’s Commune IV. YOUSOS APDOULRASHIM

S’ville set to become next economic pole

The Preah Sihanouk Provincial Administration has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with 16 Chinese cities and provinces to promote investments in tourism, culture, education and sports between the province and China.

The announcement was made by Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun at a Tuesday press conference at the Council of Ministers.

“This is a relationship that encourages investments in various sectors, which is good for both countries. We have been cooperating on many fronts. If they have any issues concerning the investments, we help address them. And if we have any issues, they do the same,” he said.

Thanks to this cooperation, Chamroeun said the province has had the opportunity to gain other benefits from China, including aid for the Kingdom in its fight against Covid-19.

He said China has sent medical supplies and health professionals to help Cambodia contain the pandemic.

He expressed high hopes that the MoUs will further promote tourism between the two countries.

“A lot of Chinese have visited Preah Sihanouk province and it has significantly enhanced Cambodia’s economy. But so far only small numbers of Preah Sihanouk residents have visited China,” he said.

The number of Chinese visiting Preah Sihanouk has dropped due to Covid-19 and a ban on online gambling that took effect in January. There are about 15,000 of them currently in coastal provinces compared to two million just a year ago.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said Preah Sihanouk is a multi-purpose coastal province that the government believes has the potential to become a multi-purpose economic zone.

He said it is the third main economic pole after Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

“On Sihanoukville, Deputy Prime Minister Hor Namhong led an internal meeting of the Cambodia-China Inter-governmental Coordinating Committee, which demonstrated strategic partnership between the two countries in all sectors,” he said.

Since 1994, Chamroeun said the province attracted nearly $4 billion in investments. He said as of May, 20 companies have developed 11,637ha of beaches and islands, with total capital investments of $3.9 billion.

He said the government is striving to turn the province into a smart city and has built more than 30 roads there to attract tourists and investors.

“We are open to investments and want to draw more foreign investors and tourists. China is the world’s second-largest economy and one of the most powerful, populous countries.

“It’s also the wealthiest in Asia and every country wants to attract its investments. But we target not only China for investments. Our goal is to attract other wealthy countries to invest as well,” he said.

He said so far, 60 companies have planned to invest a total of $10.74 billion in tourism and hotels.

During a visit to inspect infrastructure development in the province earlier this month, Prime Minister Hun Sen said the government has spent $300 million to build 34 roads and is further developing the province as a model of sustainable development for the Kingdom’s coastal areas and special economic zones.

“The road and infrastructure development in Preah Sihanouk is a strategy that makes the province a multi-purpose model. This is a civilised commercial city and it can be the first smart city in Cambodia,” he said.

Provincial tourism department director Taing Sochet Kresna told The Post on Tuesday that the tourism sector has generated more than 10,000 jobs this year.

“The provincial authorities are developing Preah Sihanouk into a multi-polar economy and are now developing various tourist sites,” he said.

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