Sino-Cambodian joint venture changes lives for the better

By LIN SHUJUAN in Sihanoukville, Cambodia | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-07-04 07:18
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Workers commute to and from the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone on motorcycles. LIN SHUJUAN/CHINA DAILY

Foreign investors

Sihanoukville boasts Cambodia's only deep-water port. The city, carved out of the jungle in the 1960s, is named after former King Norodom Sihanouk (1922-2012).

Cambodia intends to build Sihanoukville into its version of Shenzhen, Guangdong province, where in 1980 China built a special economic zone, the first in the country, as an experimental site for a market economy. In four decades, Shenzhen has risen from being a remote coastal town to becoming a global technology manufacturing hub.

The SSEZ, which is set to spearhead the development of Sihanoukville, has become a popular destination for international investors. One of the first European companies to invest in the zone was Horseware Products (Cambodia) Co, which is based in Ireland and specializes in equestrian products.

The company said it has experienced exponential growth since setting up in the SSEZ in 2010. It now has 287 employees and a monthly output of 22,000 products, which are exported to Ireland, other European countries and the United States.

Caffco International (Cambodia), a US business that produces Christmas trees and decorations for export to the US, is another company that has thrived in the SSEZ.

Lamar Thompson, CEO of Caffco, said the business decided to set up operations in the SSEZ, as its proximity to an international port meant it was convenient and affordable to transport the company's goods.

"Since the company started to operate in the SSEZ in 2014, it has grown at an average rate of about 10 percent per year," Thompson said.

On May 22, General Tire Technology (Cambodia), a subsidiary of Chinese tire maker Jiangsu General Science Technology, launched operations at the park. Backed by investment of $300 million, the factory project is the largest within the SSEZ.The plant will primarily process local rubber into tires.

Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen and Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian cut the ribbon at the plant's inauguration ceremony, highlighting the project's significance.

Hun Sen described the tire factory as another result of the fruitful cooperation between Cambodia and China as part of the BRI.

"The factory has brought new capital, modern technologies and tire manufacturing expertise to Cambodia. It will increase the national economy's added value and directly raise our farmers' incomes," he said.

Tao Guozhong, general manager of the factory, said it can manufacture 5 million semi-steel radial tires and 900,000 all-steel radial tires annually, and when fully operational, it will hire up to 1,600 Cambodians.

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