The value of imports and exports handled at the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) reached $2.234 billion in 2021, marking a 42.75 per cent rise from $1.565 billion a year earlier, according to a statement released by the operator on January 10.
This follows a 26.52 per cent uptick in 2020 versus $1.237 billion in 2019, previous statistics show.
The statement did not provide separate figures for imports and exports.
For reference, the operator previously reported that imports and exports passing through the SSEZ were to the tune of $2.001 billion in January-November 2021, up by 40 per cent from the $1.429 billion posted in the corresponding period a year earlier.
Developer and operator Sihanoukville Special Economy Zone Co Ltd said it “is committed to rapid growth for all enterprises in SSEZ”.
Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) vice-president Lim Heng ascribed the rapid growth mainly to an increase in production capacity and orders from large-scale investors.
He suggested that the mounting volume of orders for Cambodian products was boosted by production chain disruptions in countries that produce similar goods, which he attributed to political instability and more severe Covid-19 crises.
Heng did not mention any country by name, but his go-to examples are Myanmar, Bangladesh and Vietnam.
He contended that relatively low levels of disruptions have elevated the world’s confidence in Cambodian production, and said SSEZ tenants are placing more orders for the raw materials and other inputs that they need to churn out finished products.
“For 2022, I think SSEZ’s revenue from imports and exports will be even higher with the new investment law, bilateral Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership in effect, as a new impetus to drive more orders for all sectors in Cambodia,” Heng said.
Hong Vanak, director of International Economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, noted that the larger, nearly 50 per cent figure logged in 2021: included imports of machinery, parts and raw materials such as fabrics needed for operations; came even as Covid-19 continues to threaten global production and demand; and bodes well for 2022.
“This improvement in imports and exports demonstrates that the quality and production chains of factories and manufacturing enterprises in the SSEZ are able to meet the standards and quantities for orders,” he said.
“Growth in the value of SSEZ’s imports and exports will see significant upward momentum in 2022.”
SSEZ lies on a whopping 11.13sq km in Bit Traing commune’s Pou Thoeung village in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nop district.
Established in 2008 and purportedly committed to creating multinational investment platforms for companies around the world, SSEZ is a partnership between by Jiangsu Taihu Cambodia International Economic Cooperation Investment Co Ltd and the Cambodia International Investment Development Group Co Ltd.
The CCC’s Heng said that operating in SEZs makes record keeping of imports and exports easier, and argued that this has stepped up the pace of economic growth in the Kingdom.
There are currently 39 SEZs in the Kingdom, according to the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC).