Cambodia business news has been coming thick and fast over the past few weeks. So fast, in fact, I haven’t been able to keep up with it all. I’ll start with something I heard this morning, though, because if you’re interested in Sihanoukville, you should be interested in news about our electricity supply.
My last blog included a photograph of the new Sihanoukville power station. Well, according to informed sources, including a Malaysian executive who has been working there, it’s ready to go operational. All they have to do is finish the worker training program and then they can switch the lights on, so to speak. This is going to have an enormous impact on every aspect of life in Sihanoukville. For example, one of the reasons for our power outages has been that they had to divert power to the Sihanoukville Airport when flights came in or departed. That will become a thing of the past and the airport will be able to operate at full capacity.
In Other Cambodia Business News
Wary of China, Companies Head to Cambodia appeared in the New York Times on the 8th of April. Surprisingly free of the usual patronising jargon, the article told about all the companies that are establishing businesses here in Cambodia. According to the article, the reason is simple: “They want to limit their overwhelming reliance on factories in China.” In 2012, more money was invested by businesses in Cambodia per capita than in China, so it’s not just speculation, but fact. Cambodia is growing and thriving.
Another article about Cambodia and China appeared on the Radio Free Asia blog. As expected, Cambodia Scores More Aid From China did take a few cheap shots here and there, but that’s to be expected from RFA. Interestingly, just after “expressing concern” that “well-connected” companies that did shoddy work were given contracts in the past, the article went on to say: “The quality of a Chinese company’s construction of a key Cambodian highway—National Road 7—came under widespread criticism for shoddy work last year, including from Hun Sen.” The emphasis there is mine. It’s doubtful Hun Sen is going to give contracts to those companies in the future. No matter how “well-connected” they are, Cambodia’s future depends on its infrastructure. No one knows this better than Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Finally, while most visitors to Sihanoukville still insist on thinking of it as a sleepy tourist town and little more, behind the scenes, the city continues to become an increasingly vital part of the Cambodian economy in more important ways. The Phnom Penh Post reports, Sihanoukville port volume increases 15 per cent as compared with the first quarter of the previous year. What happens at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port speaks volumes about what’s happening throughout Cambodia. As Din Virak, Managing Director of V Capital Institute was quoted as saying, “When imports of items such as machinery, fuel or cement increase, it means there is more investment activity to generate economic benefits.”