CAMBODIA – Situated in southwest Cambodia, the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), a flagship project under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is not only a key manufacturing base, but also a venue for the development of skilled labor.
Meort Soeurt, a 26-year-old worker at the General Tire Technology (Cambodia) factory in the SSEZ, said he is happy to work here because of his decent salary and better working conditions.
“Here, I have received vocational training in manufacturing car tires from the factory,” he told Xinhua. “This is Cambodia’s first car tire factory, so it’s very good for me to learn techniques in making car tires.”
Soeurt said he currently makes 450 U.S. dollars a month from his job, which requires an eight-hour work per day. “It’s a good salary, and with this amount, I can save 250 U.S. dollars per month,” he said. Em Sreyda, another employee at the General Tire Technology (Cambodia) factory, said she was one of the talents the factory had sent to train in Thailand before commencing her job.
“I’m happy to work here because Chinese people are like our brothers and sisters, and they are willing to teach us,” she told Xinhua. “Working here, we can improve our Chinese proficiency, and there are also a lot of opportunities for self-advancement.”
The 24-year-old worker said she earns nearly 500 U.S. dollars monthly. Kreong Sambol, a 31-year-old worker at a plywood factory in the SSEZ, said he makes more than 300 U.S. dollars a month.
“Of this, I could save 150 dollars a month, and my living condition is much better than before,” he told Xinhua. “Previously, I had only a bicycle, but now, I own a new motorcycle.” Situated some 20 km northeast of the international deep-water Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, the SSEZ currently houses 175 factories from China, Europe, the United States, Southeast Asia and other regions, generating nearly 30,000 local jobs.
Those enterprises manufacture clothes, shoes, luggage and leather goods, medical supplies, machinery, construction materials, home furniture, auto parts and car tires, and new photovoltaic materials. SSEZ’s General Manager Cao Jianjiang said the value of imports and exports passing through the zone rose to 2.49 billion U.S. dollars last year, up 12 percent year-on-year.
“This has not only injected strong momentum into Cambodia’s economic development, but also greatly improved the livelihoods of local workers and residents living around the zone,” he told Xinhua. Founded in 2008, the 11-square-km SSEZ is expected to accommodate up to 300 factories in the coming years, generating up to 100,000 jobs for Cambodian people, Cao said.
Sihanoukville Deputy Governor Long Dimanche said the SSEZ is the biggest industrial zone in size and occupancy in Southeast Asia. “The SSEZ has played an important role in supporting Cambodia’s economic development and has been becoming a link of regional and global supply chains,” he told Xinhua.
He said the zone has brought benefits to Sihanoukville, reducing migration and poverty, and has acted as a gateway for trade between Cambodia and the world.
“The SSEZ is a good example of mutually beneficial cooperation and win-win results between Cambodia and China under the BRI,” Dimanche said.
BRI, which consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was proposed by China in 2013 with an aim of building trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa on and beyond the ancient Silk Road trade routes.-(Xinhua)