by Ngouon Sovan, Mao Pengfei
PHNOM PENH, May 9 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian officials and experts said Wednesday that China's successful Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in southern coastal metropolis Shenzhen is a role model for Cambodia as the country has been developing its own SEZs.
Soem Nara, director general of the industry department of the Ministry of Industry and Handicraft, said Cambodia is keen to learn from Shenzhen's experience in the development of SEZs because the Southeast Asian nation plans to turn its coastal Preah Sihanouk province into a multi-purpose SEZ.
Speaking at a forum here, the official thanked a Chinese delegation for sharing Shenzhen's experience on SEZ development with Cambodian officials and experts from various ministries and institutions.
"The knowledge learned today is really valuable for Cambodia because the government has planned to transform Preah Sihanouk province into a multi-purpose Special Economic Zone," he said.
Nut Unvoannra, deputy secretary general of the Cambodia Investment Board at the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), said Cambodia initiated the establishment of SEZs in 2006. To date, the government has approved 32 SEZs - 19 of them are operational as the rest are under construction.
"With the support of Shenzhen, we will improve our understanding of challenges and opportunities in developing SEZs, especially for Preah Sihanouk province, and in supporting Cambodia's Industry Development Policy, this will greatly enhance our cooperation with China," he said.
Lim Visal, assistant to CDC's secretary general Sok Chenda Sophea, said that in Cambodia, a SEZ was required to have the minimum size of 50 hectares with proper infrastructure such as roads, sewer pipes, clean water, and electricity.
To date, there were 347 projects with a total investment of 2.73 billion U.S. dollars in the kingdom's SEZs, which had generated more than 104,000 jobs, he said.
"Cambodia exported products worth 1.54 billion U.S. dollars from those SEZs in 2017, representing more than 14 percent of the kingdom's total export," he said.
Chen Reth, director of the Preah Sihanouk province's planning and investment division, said the successful development of Shenzhen SEZ was good experience for Cambodia.
He said Preah Sihanouk province currently has four active SEZs. One of them is the Chinese-invested Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, which has so far accommodated 128 investment projects and created about 20,000 jobs.
"Shenzhen's great success in SEZ development is encouraging us," he told Xinhua. "I hope that Shenzhen can help us develop SEZs through developing human resources and providing technical and financial support."
Chan Sophal, director of the Center for Policy Studies, said Cambodia and Shenzhen had a lot of possibilities for cooperation in SEZ development, saying that Cambodia needed to learn a lot from Shenzhen's experience.
Founded in 1980 and situated immediately north of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Shenzhen SEZ was China's first and one of the most successful SEZs.