The volume of imports and exports handled at the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) notched up more than $217 million in the first month of 2022, marking a 45.64 per cent rise year-on-year, according to a statement released by the operator.

This follows a 16.41 per cent increase to $149 million in January 2021, from $128 million in January 2020, company statistics show.

Developer and operator Sihanoukville Special Economy Zone Co Ltd said enterprises at the SSEZ last month “achieved good results and continued to maintain growth, in an unchanging trend”.

The statement did not provide separate figures for imports and exports.

Previous notices posted by the operator show that at least three companies have broken ground on construction at the industrial park this year – Flying Feather (Cambodia) Wood-Industry Co Ltd, Wisdom Power Technology (Cambodia) Co Ltd and General Intelligence (Cambodia) Co Ltd.

The Ministry of Commerce’s business registry lists “Yang Jianxiong” as chairman of Flying Feather with a postal registered office address in China’s Fujian province, and one chairman along with four other directors of General Intelligence with addresses in Wuxi, Jiangsu province.

Wisdom Power Technology is not listed in the registry, although images of the January 27 groundbreaking ceremony posted by the SSEZ’s operator show extensive use of simplified Chinese characters – principally used in mainland China.

Logistics Business Association (LOBA) president Chea Chandara told The Post on February 17 that SSEZ imports and exports as well as new investments in the industrial zone have managed to stay in positive territory despite the spread of Omicron and other coronavirus strains, and associated threats to economic activities in the Kingdom and further afoot.

Commenting on the addition of new tenants, Chandara explained that the SSEZ provides “a lot of favourable conditions for investment, especially for ocean freight forwarding”.

European countries buy the majority of the SSEZ’s products, which primarily comprise tables, dressers and other types of furniture, plywood, bags and electronics, he said, affirming that most tenants are from the Greater China region.

Chandara predicted that the value of imports and exports handled by the industrial zone will trend up throughout this year.

Cambodia Chamber of Commerce vice-president Lim Heng chalked up this growth to the SSEZ’s convenient location for international shipping, advantageous investment laws, affordable prices, a surge in investor confidence, a diverse skilled local labour force, political stability, among other factors.

He said Cambodian exports have also benefitted from evolving international crises – including political conflicts, Covid-linked health emergencies and the ongoing Sino-US trade spat.

“The adjustments made by the new Law on Investment and the benefits of the bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements that Cambodia has signed will raise SSEZ import and export values in 2022,” he forecast.

The value of imports and exports passing through the SSEZ were to the tune of $2.234 billion in 2021, a 42.75 per cent uptick from $1.565 billion a year earlier, according to the operator.

This follows a 26.52 per cent rise in 2020 versus $1.237 billion in 2019, previous statistics show.