The Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), a major project in Cambodia under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has significantly improved the lives of tens of thousands of residents while simultaneously boosting the economy of the country.
The Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), which is located approximately 20 kilometers northeast of the international deep-water Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, is presently home to 175 industries from China, Europe, the United States, Southeast Asia, and other places, creating close to 30,000 employment locally.
These businesses produce a variety of commodities, such as novel photovoltaic materials, medical supplies, equipment, building materials, home furnishings, shoes, clothing, luggage, and leather goods.
Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said the industrial zone is an excellent example of reciprocal collaboration and win-win outcomes between Cambodia and China under the BRI while speaking at the BRI’s 10th anniversary celebration held at the SSEZ on Monday.
At the inauguration, he addressed the more than 24,000 industrial employees, “This SSEZ has created a lot of jobs for local people and is a manufacturing base for exports to other countries, including China.”
Hun Sen praised the SSEZ for continuing to grow despite the COVID-19 outbreak and said that it had contributed to the creation of a national economic and technology corridor.
The SSEZ, the biggest industrial zone in Cambodia in terms of area and occupancy, is a model project of real-world collaboration between China and Cambodia under the BRI, according to Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian.
At the occasion, he noted, “This special economic zone has grown to be the engine of Sihanoukville’s economic expansion and the ‘golden rice bowl’ for the locals.”
Ith Samheng, the minister of labor and vocational training for Cambodia, said that Sihanoukville’s transformation into a multipurpose special economic zone and the country’s second economic pole depends on the SSEZ.
“The SSEZ has not only contributed to the development of our economy, but also had corporate social responsibilities,” he added, adding that it has always taken part in charitable endeavors and neighborhood improvement.
The value of imports and exports that passed through the zone increased to 2.49 billion dollars in 2022, up 14% year over year, according to SSEZ General Manager Cao Jianjiang.
“This has not only given Cambodia’s economic development a strong boost, but has also significantly improved the livelihoods of local workers and residents living nearby,” he told Xinhua.
The SSEZ, which was established in 2008, he said, has contributed to the peaceful and underdeveloped Sihanoukville becoming a busy metropolis.
Speaking about the China-Cambodia Free Trade deal and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) deal, Cao said that both trade agreements would assist the Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) draw in more investment due to their advantageous tariffs and trade facilitation.
According to him, “the SSEZ will fully utilize the two agreements to promote China-Cambodia “Silk Road E-commerce” and to boost agricultural exports of Cambodia to China and other RCEP members, so that local farmers can increase their income.”
In the next years, the SSEZ is anticipated to house up to 300 industries, which Cao claims might result in up to 100,000 employment for Cambodians.