PHNOM PENH, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) — Projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have been helping buffer Cambodia’s economic development against the fallout of COVID-19, officials and academics said in recent interviews.
Cambodian government chief spokesman Phay Siphan said BRI projects here like the construction of the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway, the new Siem Reap international airport, the national stadium, and the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ) among others, have provided tremendous benefits to Cambodia’s economic development during the pandemic.
Despite the impact of COVID-19, construction of mega projects like the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway and the 700-megawatt power plant in Sihanoukville has made headway steadily, promoting Cambodia’s economic development, he said, adding that when completed those projects will play a very important role in helping boost Cambodia’s economy in the post-pandemic era.
“The SSEZ has importantly contributed to supporting the country’s exports, and all hydropower plants have supplied stable electricity, which is crucial to ensure the normalcy of people’s daily lives and businesses,” he told Xinhua.
Since its inception in 2013, the BRI is becoming the new engine of global economic growth, Siphan said, adding that it has importantly contributed to boosting regional and global cooperation in terms of hard and soft infrastructures, economy, trades, investment opportunities, cultural exchange, and people-to-people connectivity.
Cambodia’s economic growth is expected to rebound by 2.5 percent in 2021 after experiencing a contraction of minus 1.9 percent last year, according to the government’s latest forecast.
Neak Chandarith, director of the Cambodia 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Research Center, said the BRI projects have played a stabilizing role in anchoring economic development in Cambodia during the pandemic, while there are disruptions elsewhere.
He said, according to an operator’s report, the SSEZ saw a rise of 44.51 percent year-on-year in the value of imports and exports reaching 1.185 billion U.S. dollars in the first seven months of 2021.