Chinese textile manufacturers eye commercial opportunities in industrial zone in Cambodia
A Chinese textile manufacturer is being held up as an example of the long-term economic benefits being reaped in a special economic area in southern Cambodia.
Wentao, a Cambodian national, is one of a number of locals who works at a textile factory run by Hodo Group, a major Chinese investor in the economic area.
He said that before he formally became an employee, Hodo provided him with two-years of training at an institution funded by the company, where he not only picked up work skills, but also the Chinese language.
"The development of the economic zone has provided very good job opportunities for us. My life has changed since I worked here. I found a better job after learning Chinese. I bought a car for my family," Wen said, noting that his 5-years as an employee of Hodo has changed his life.
The Hodo Group is a major investor in the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, the biggest of its kind in Cambodia.
It's home to more than 100 foreign companies, 90-percent of which come from China.
Chinese firms in Sihanoukville currently employ around 16-thousand locals.
"In Cambodia, the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone has the fastest economic growth nationwide. We not only create jobs but also provide services for the local community. We help build schools in poor villages, which is welcomed by local residents. I believe only when they live a better life can the economic area generate long-term development," said Zhou Haijiang, director of Hodo Group.
To attract more investment, Cambodian authorities have established offices for various government departments on the site, including the customs bureau, the ministry of commerce, and a provincial government office to provide more efficient government services.
"Setting up a factory at the economic zone is just as convenient as at the development zones in China. Cambodian officials have set up a one-stop service which helps save a lot of costs for enterprises by simplifying procedures," Zhou said, suggesting that Cambodian authorities are very accommodating.
The Cambodian government has a goal of having 300 factories operational at the Sihanoukville Industrial Zone by 2020, employing as many as 100-thousand people.
Cambodian officials continue to try to attract investors from China, especially in light manufacturing.
Factories currently operating in zone mostly produce textiles for the European Union and US markets.