November 12, 2011

Cambodia lures estate investors


TRAT -- Cambodia is developing its Koh Kong province, adjacent to Thailand's Trat province, in a bid to attract investors as industrial estates in central Thailand are flooded.

Prasert Siri, exporter and port owner in Khlong Yai district in Trat, said the Cambodian government declared Koh Kong, especially its Mondol Seima district, a special economic zone where promotional privileges for investors are available.

The Cambodian government has contracted the LYP Group belonging to well-known Cambodian businessman Ly Yong Phat, who is a native of Koh Kong, to develop and manage the special economic zone.

The Koh Kong Industrial Estate, Koh Kong Casino, Koh Kong Resort and Koh Kong Safari World, and a deep-sea port half the size of the Laem Chabang port in Thailand, are already established there.

Cambodia opened the industrial estate a decade ago and foreign investors began moving there a few years ago.

South Korean auto-parts producer Hyundai has opened a plant in the estate and a number of Japan companies will follow suit, Mr Prasert said.

"The floods in Thailand that have inundated seven industrial estates so far have led Korean and Japanese investors to look for new locations to reduce their business risks, and the Koh Kong Industrial Estate is an interesting location," he said.

Mr Prasert said business growth at Koh Kong started after Thailand improved Road No.48 from Na Klua to Koh Kong. Since then, investments from Cambodians and foreigners have boomed.

China is building two hydropower dams in two Cambodian rivers. They will be completed in three years and generate 2,000 megawatts of energy that will be supplied to Koh Kong and exported to Thailand.

With these dams, Cambodia will have enough power to meet its needs for the next 10-15 years and Koh Kong will grow rapidly.

"About 1,000 Chinese businessmen have rented commercial areas in downtown Koh Kong and are running retail, restaurants, hotels and export businesses," Mr Prasert said.

"They use Chinese money and language, and have made a Chinatown in Koh Kong.

"Chinese products are imported for sale in Koh Kong. This may affect Thai products in the near future."

Kitpapha Prasitthivej, manager of S Kitrawan, Trat's biggest port, said flooding in industrial estates in central Thailand have cut exports to Cambodia and Vietnam through Trat a lot, even though orders from both countries normally soared during the run-up to New Year.

If the flooding is prolonged and Thailand cannot supply products to Cambodia after next month, Cambodia might turn to buy products from China, Singapore and Vietnam instead.

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