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Cambodia-VN forum hears plans for cross-border SEZ

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Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng (centre) presides over the Vietnam-Cambodia Business Forum in Phnom Penh on Friday. THOU VIREAK

Cambodia-VN forum hears plans for cross-border SEZ

The Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and more than 60 companies from Vietnam’s southern provinces held a business forum on Friday to discuss the establishment of a special economic zone (SEZ) along the border of the two countries.

CCC vice-president Lim Heng, who presided over the Vietnam-Cambodia Business Forum, told The Post on Sunday that it aimed to boost commercial cooperation between companies in the two countries.

He said plans to build the SEZ along the border have been approved by both governments.

“We are promoting this task as the governments of both countries have already given the green light. However, the private sectors are still looking for more resources and partners,” Heng said.

He said the SEZ could be a cross-border zone – partially in Kratie province and partially in Vietnam’s Binh Phuoc province.

However, if differences between the two countries’ investment laws are too great to be convenient, then twin SEZs could be set up across the border from each other instead, Heng said.

As Vietnam currently has a free trade agreement (FTA) with the US, Cambodia may benefit from the SEZ – particularly from large orders from the US market.

“As soon as we reach a free trade agreement with China, the two-sides SEZ will benefit more – duty-free goods exported to the US may be produced in Vietnam and the production of goods exported to China may be outsourced to Cambodia,” Heng said.

Several memorandums of understanding (MoUs), he said, were signed at the forum. However, he did not disclose their contents.

In an effort to speed up progress towards the SEZ, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry plans to invite Cambodian companies, as well as representatives of the CCC, the Ministry of Commerce and the Council for the Development of Cambodia to meet in Vietnam in the near future.

Speaking at the forum, Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia Vu Quang Minh said the recent high number of trade and investment production activities and the high volume of tourists between the two countries had greatly attracted the attention of companies in his country to the potential of cross-border trade and investment.

Bilateral trade between the two countries reached $4.7 billion last year, up 23.8 per cent from 2017’s $3.8 billion, data from the General Department of Vietnam Customs show. The figure is forecast to reach $5.2 billion this year.

Vietnam is the Kingdom’s third-largest source of foreign investment.

Last month, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said his country has invested in 214 projects in the Kingdom worth $3.3 billion. Of those, 176 remain active with a combined capital of $2.77 billion.

Cambodia has invested $63.7 million in 21 projects in Vietnam, mostly in agro-forestry-fisheries, trade, transportation, manufacturing, and processing, which is the 54th highest among the 132 countries and territories investing in Vietnam, data from Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment shows.

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