Cambodia: Sihanoukville multi-purpose SEZ master plan reviewed

A meeting at the Ministry of Economy and Finance under the chairmanship of Dr Aun Pornmoniroth, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, on Wednesday, reviewed and discussed recommendations on the draft report on the second phase of the master plan for the development of Sihanoukville into a multi-purpose special economic zone.

Discussing the report, Pan Sorasak, Minister of Commerce, appreciated the efforts of the Inter-Ministerial Technical Working Group for the draft report.

The meeting discussed the report of the Secretariat and Urban Planning and Design Institute of Shenzhen, China (UPDIS) regarding the second
phase of the master plan for the Sihanoukville multi-purpose special economic zone.

The draft of the ‘first phase plan’ was submitted to the Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee for Planning on March 30, 2022. The working group discussed with relevant ministries and institutions the key points and prepared a draft for the second phase.

The report included economic development, industry, and industrial management; labour market and vocational training; SEZ development model; public facilities, transportation and infrastructure; tourism and biodiversity; living and well-being; urban design; land use management; green belt management; institutional framework, and action plan report.

Regarding trade, Sorasak provided inputs on various free trade agreements that Cambodia entered with different nations and the Generalized System of Preferences.

“The Ministry of Commerce continued its efforts in a proactive spirit by working closely with relevant ministries and institutions as well as the private sector to diversify the market through negotiations to establish free trade agreements with China and Korea. We are negotiating the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the United Arab Emirates,” Sorasak said.

It may be noted that on June 9, 2021, Prime Minister Hun Sen signed a sub-decree to make Sihanoukville province a multi-purpose SEZ. The designation stands to give Sihanoukville province more latitude in structuring development initiatives and investment incentives into a wider array of areas.

Ministry of Economy and Finance and UPDIS signed the master plan consultancy contract agreement in October 2021. UPDIS is assigned to prepare a master plan to transform Sihanoukville into a multi-purpose special economic zone.

As part of Cambodia’s Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025, the government plans the establishment of the multi-purpose SEZ in four phases. Expected to take around 18 months, the data collection and site survey was held as part of phase one. Phase two involved assessment and proposal. Phase three carries out the preparation of the master plan while phase 4 is set to complete the master plan.

The master plan will serve as a key roadmap to develop Sihanoukville into a ‘second Shenzhen city’.

It aims to develop and transform Sihanoukville as a major economic zone in Southeast Asia and an advanced industrial zone that serves the regional and global production chains through the usage of technology and smart equipment.

Sihanoukville province’s capital city is one of the country’s most important economic drivers mainly because of the contribution from sectors such as trade, logistics, and tourism. The Sihanoukville SEZ is already the largest SEZ in the Kingdom.