Cambodia: PM praises Svay Rieng SEZs for economic contributions

Prime Minister Hun Sen praised the special economic zones in Svay Rieng province for their significant contribution to economic development, through a large share of total exports and the creation of jobs for local people.

The special economic zone in Svay Rieng employed just 100 workers when it first opened in 2005 and currently, there are nine SEZs in the province employing over 80,000 workers, the Prime Minister said during a meeting with workers from the SEZs yesterday.

“In 2022, the total export from SEZs in Svay Rieng province amounted to $5,237 million, accounting for about 23 percent of the total exports for that year,” the premier said.

In the first quarter this year, exports from SEZs in Svay Rieng rose 14.4 percent to $1,200 million, he added.

“Despite the slowdown in exports of garment, footwear, and travel goods, the exports of non-garment products are surging. The SEZs in Svay Rieng province export high-price products such as electronic components and bicycles,” he said.

SEZ is an effective mechanism to attract investment in the non-garment and footwear sector due to the necessary infrastructure for investment, as well as other factors such as safety, confidence, good management related to workers’ issues, etc.

SEZs were established throughout the country to provide investors with a “one-stop service for imports and exports” and facilitate trade. These hubs have also been instrumental in national economic development and are increasingly being linked with key transport routes.

Before the pandemic, it was estimated that there were more than 50 SEZs in Cambodia, with a combined workforce of 130,000 people in more than 450 factories.

Most of the companies that invested in the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone are from Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan, Belgium, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, the US and the Philippines.

The Council for the Development of Cambodia recently finalized a new draft law on special economic zones (SEZs), aiming to attract investment into the country by providing incentives, enhancing transparency, and promoting fair competition.

Chea Vuthy, Deputy Secretary-General of CDC’s Cambodian Investment Committee, said that the new law, to be endorsed soon, will help accelerate the diversification of the economy, promote connectivity and create industrial clusters.

The Prime Minister spoke highly of the government’s policy on upgrading former battle areas along the border to develop with neighbouring countries.

“Cambodia’s peace policy is in line with Vietnam’s peace policy, which seeks to trade and invest with each other. The trade volume between Cambodia and Vietnam exceeded $10 billion last year, while the goods exported to Vietnam before were less than Vietnam imported to Cambodia, but now sometimes Cambodian goods exported to Vietnam are more than Vietnam’s goods imports to Cambodia, which is a mutually complementary economy,” he said.

The peace policy along the border is practised with Vietnam and Thailand, where there are special economic zones in Banteay Meanchey and Koh Kong provinces.

In the first five months of 2023, 64 investment projects with a total investment of $540 million were approved by the CDC, creating 78,292 jobs.