Third Ring Road 50 percent complete

The construction of the $300 million third ring road was 50 percent complete as of early May and is scheduled to be finished next year, according to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport’s spokesman Heang Sotheayuth. The 52 kilometre road stretches from National Road 4 from Por Sen Chey district in the west of Phnom Penh and crosses National Roads 3 and 2 to National Road 1, in the east of the capital, connecting to the Phnom Penh autonomous port.

The construction of the road is expected to finish by September next year, Sotheayuth said.

The road has 47 km of cement pavement and a five km stretch with asphalt paving. If there are no disruptions, the construction of the road will be ready as planned, Sotheayuth said. “The construction process continues despite the threat of COVID-19 disease.

Both construction companies and technical consulting firms adhere to the Ministry of Health’s guidelines for combating COVID-19 disease,” he said.

The road will contribute economically to the transportation and logistics sector, joining National Roads Number 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1, to create a huge connection of roads.

It will connect ASEAN highways and major economic corridors of the Greater Mekong sub-region, contributing to the facilitation of cross-border transport and promoting international trade and logistics.

It will turn the land on either side of the ring road into potential housing, logistics and industrial development areas.

Cambodia and Singapore’s 2020 bilateral trade reaches $4 billion

Bilateral trade between Cambodia and Singapore reached $4.2 billion in 2020. Senior officials of the two nations are optimistic that trade figures will increase further in 2021.

The figure was presented during a March 25 meeting between Say Chhum, President of the Senate and the newly-appointed ambassador of Singapore to Cambodia, Teo Lay Cheng.

Chhum said bilateral trade between the countries reached more than $4 billion despite the COVID-19 crisis and contributed significantly to the socio-economic development of the people of the two nations. He added that Singapore’s investments in Cambodia reached $1.29 billion between 1994 and 2020.

Cheng appreciated the good relations and cooperation between the nations in fields including the economy and health, as well as the friendship between the people of the two countries.

“The economic and investment sector links between our countries have been steadily increasing, especially as Singaporean investors have been working closely with Cambodian investors in the development and promotion of the technology and digital sectors, with the most prominent area being tourism and hospitality,” she said.

The Singaporean ambassador also stated that direct flights from Singapore to the Kingdom of Cambodia are increasing to nine times weekly, which will promote the relationship and connection between the countries.

Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak has encouraged Singapore to boost bilateral trade, particularly by increasing the number of agricultural goods that Singapore buys from Cambodia.

Cambodian products that could find a market in Singapore, including Kampot pepper, Kampong Speu palm sugar, Koh Trong pomelos, mangoes and milled rice, Sorasak said.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday, Cheng also highlighted the good state of bilateral and regional cooperation in terms of trade, economy, human resources and other sectors – and pledged to further explore more opportunities to boost cooperation.

Foreigners eligible for free vaccines

A doctor getting ready to vaccinate a patient with the Sinopharm vaccine from China. KT/Khem Sovannara

The Cambodian government is providing free vaccinations against COVID-19 to all foreigners living and working in the Kingdom.

This was disclosed in a circular dated February 24, 2021, by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to diplomatic missions in Phnom Penh and the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator.

The ministry in the circular said: “All foreign nationals who are currently residing and working in Cambodia can get vaccinated against COVID-19 at no charge in accordance with Cambodian COVID-19 vaccination plans”.

More details on the process of vaccinating foreigners will be released in the future, it said.

The Australian Embassy also posted the news on its Facebook page, confirming that foreigners were eligible for vaccinations.

“Australia is pleased that foreign nationals who are living or working in Cambodia will be able to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in line with Cambodia’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout. This is both a compassionate decision and a smart one because broad vaccine coverage across all groups in Cambodia will ultimately help protect everyone from COVID-19,” it said.

A British expat who requested anonymity told Khmer Times she would accept a vaccine for free from the government because it could help get her life back to normal.

An Australian expat in the food and beverage industry said he would also get a vaccine for free if offered.

He added that he is pro-vaccination and didn’t agree with those who would doubt the effectiveness or importance of getting vaccines.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh on Wednesday said it had received information that Sinopharm vaccines were being sold on the black market for between $120 and $450.

The Ministry of Health denied the report, however.

The Chinese Embassy said Chinese residents of Cambodia alerted the embassy to texts received promising vaccines if they paid $120.

Posts on Chinese social media indicated that vaccines were being sold for $450 as well.

According to Fresh News, the story first broke on Angkor Times and was spread on WeChat, saying “Cambodia sells China-aided COVID-19 vaccines at a high price.”

The embassy also said that according to their understanding of the situation, the Cambodian government and military store the vaccines and that there was no way it could have slipped through to the open market. It said any messages proposing to have the vaccine are fake.

The Chinese Embassy added that the vaccines are monitored closely and follow strict guidelines related to storage and transportation. It also noted that vaccines obtained on the black market and vaccinations administered by non-professionals pose health risks.

To date, 10,115 civilians have been vaccinated in Cambodia. The country received 600,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine from China on February 7 and shipments of the Oxford/AstraZenca vaccine are expected to arrive in Cambodia by the end of this month, according to World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to Cambodia Dr Li Ailan.

The country’s vaccination drive began on February 10. Of the 600,000 doses, 300,000 were given to the Ministry of Defence to inoculate armed forces, dignitaries, senior ministers, governors, secretaries, and undersecretaries of state. The Ministry of Health was given the other half of vaccinations to be used by health officials and journalists.

PPSEZ releases Q4 financial report

Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone registered solid growth in its fourth quarter filings, despite the pandemic’s impact on the Kingdom’s manufacturing sector. KT/Siv Channa

The Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone (PPSEZ) saw year-on-year revenue grow by nearly 36 percent to more than $4.2 million, according to its quarterly report released on Monday.

The firm reported an unaudited pre-tax profit of $560,793, marking a 26 percent gain over the same period in 2019.

Total assets increased slightly to $94.947 million, while total liabilities remained largely unaffected, remaining in the $38.8 million range.

According to the year-end report, the firm had more than $1.622 million in liquid assets, up from $1.433 million in 2019. The firm paid in excess of $388,000 in interest expense on loans during the three-month period. Total interest on loans accounted for more than $1.45 million of the firm’s financial costs incurred during 2020.

Earnings per share decreased significantly over the 12-month period, falling to $0.01 from the $0.20 cents achieved in 2019.

PPSEZ share prices saw a steep 47.5 percent decline over Q4, falling from $0.55 to $0.29 by the quarter’s end.

PPSEZ’s shares price fell 30 riels per share Monday following the report’s release. It closed at 1,510 riels ($0.37) per share at the end of Monday’s trading on the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX). This reduced the company’s market cap over the course of the day by $528,947 to $26.61 million.

Despite the ongoing pandemic and its impact on manufacturing, the report did show that income revenue from rentals in the PPSEZ increased during the quarter.

Rental income increased by more than $1 million from the same period in 2019, bringing in over $517,000 of revenue for the firm. Income from the sale of land was the firm’s largest revenue generator for the quarter, exceeding $2.28 million. Services rendered to firms operating in the PPSEZ generated $857,000.

The company derived $548,000 in rental income from Colben Energy (Cambodia), which operates a heavy fuel oil-fired power plant in the area. Colben in turn was paid $429,010 by PPSEZ for electricity purchases.

PPSEZ is among 17 operating special economic zones in Cambodia. There are a total of 36 zones approved for operations in the Kingdom in the future.

The firm announced earlier this year that it had established three new subsidiaries. These include PPSEZ II, a second with Sahas Property Co Ltd for further property development and a third with Japanese firm Gomi Recycle (Phnom Penh) Co Ltd in a partnership for solid waste management.

The report was reviewed by Baker Tilly (Cambodia) Co Ltd. The firm said that because reviews cover less in scope than audits, it was not aware of any significant matters that might be identified in a more comprehensive audit.

Shares of PPSEZ, which trade under the ticker PPSP on the Cambodia Securities Exchange, finished yesterday’s trading up 20 riels to close at 1,530 riels per share ($0.38).

Japan provides more support for Cambodia’s education and agriculture sectors

The Government of Japan has agreed to provide $754,321 to support the areas of education and agriculture in Cambodia, under the framework, The Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects.

The Grant Contract was signed Friday between Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Mikami Masahiro, and the representatives of recipient organisations, it added.

According to the press release, some $371,479 of the total amount will be given to Non-Profit Organisation Hearts of Gold Hearts of Gold to carry out the ‘Project on Developing 4-year University of Physical Education Course at National Institute of Physical Education and Sport (Year 2)’ by improving curriculum, training teachers and installing facilities for physical education.

Through this project, approximately 65 staff and 300 teacher trainees in the institute will be able to gain better learning environment for physical education. Also over 930,000 students in Cambodia are expected to receive more effective physical education.

For its part, the International Volunteers of Yamagata (IVY) will receive about $382,842 for the project ‘Support to the smallholder farmers through contract farming of organic cashew nuts through Agriculture Cooperation (Year 3)’.

In this project, IVY will promote organic cashew nuts cultivation and cooperative marketing among farmers in Preah Vihear province to increase their income and improve their quality of life.

For the final year of this three-year project, three newly added Agricultural Cooperatives (AC) besides ongoing 10 ACs will aim to obtain an organic certification and to establish a lasting production process control system that enables each AC to become an executing entity of continued cooperative marketing and production process management after the project period.

The Grant Assistance for Japanese NGO Projects started in Cambodia in 2002 to support activities by Japanese NGOs to help Cambodia’s reconstruction and development efforts at the grassroots level.

Since 2002, the Government of Japan has provided over $42 million for 133 projects, mainly in the fields of primary education, health, agriculture and mine clearance in Cambodia.

Cambodia-Japan to hold 21st public-private sector meeting next week

Cambodia and Japan will organise the 21st Public-Private Sector Meeting on Feb. 11 to further boost Japanese investment in Cambodia.

The upcoming meeting will be co-chaired by Sok Chenda Sophea, Minister Attached to the Prime Minister and Secretary General of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), and Mikami Masahiro, Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia.

According to a CDC’s announcement, the bilateral meeting is part of the Aftercare-service mechanism which gives Japanese investors the opportunity to address challenges and make request to representatives of the Cambodian ministries/agencies to review and take appropriate actions so as to promote Japanese investment in Cambodia as well as to improve investment and business environment in Cambodia.

The 21st Cambodia-Japan Public-Private Sector Meeting will be held under the framework of the Agreement between the Kingdom of Cambodia and Japan for the Liberalisation, Promotion and Protection of Investment signed by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on June 14, 2007, it pointed out.

The Cambodia-Japan Joint Committee Meeting has been organised biannually and the first meeting was held on Aug. 11, 2009.

Steung Trang-Krouch Chhmar bridge nears completion

The Steung Trang-Krouch Chhmar Bridge has reached 95 percent completion and has been unaffected by the COVID-19 related delays that have plagued other projects in the Kingdom.

The bridge’s construction has completed all its engineering stages and asphalt is currently being laid on the bridge deck with its guardrails also being installed.

The project will be completed ahead of schedule in March 2021. It was originally due for completion in May 2021, said the Ministry of Public Works.

“The bridge will make a significant contribution to transportation, travel and cargo transport for the people of Kampong Cham and Tbong Khmum provinces,” according to the Ministry.

Formally known as the Cambodia- China Friendship Bridge, the steel fibre structure will span 1,131 metres in length and 13.50 metres.

Construction started on February 9, 2018 at a total cost of nearly $57 million and was funded by concessional loans from the Government of China and by a Royal Government of Cambodia fund for solving the impact and enabling the clearance of unexploded ordnance.

National Road 3 improvements near completion

The National Road 3 improvement project is now 83 percent complete and expected to be finished by mid-2022.

This update was shared by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT) this week, stressing that the completion of the project will be on time as initially planned.

National Road 3 is 134.8 kilometres long and connects Phnom Penh to Kampot. The improvement costs were estimated as close to $219million, and were funded in the Royal Government’s budget by a referential buyer’s credit loan from the government of China. Construction is being undertaken by the China Road and Bridge Corp, with technical advice provided by Guangzhou Wanan Construction Supervision Co Ltd.

National Road 3 will vitally support the nations’ tourism, economy and transportation system upon its completion. It is a pivotal national road with many industries and factories along its route, making it an important addition to the nations’ industrial corridor as it connects to National Road 4, which leads to Cambodia’s largest deep-water port.

Vasim Sorya, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said: “The project is on track and could even be finished slightly before the scheduled target. [Erecting] the road markings and signage and adding overpass bridges [will mark the final stage of the project’s completion].”

ANA to resume direct flights from Japan to Phnom Penh

University students take part in the campaign “Think together, act together to end violence against women and girls” last year. KT/ Pann Rachana

Japanese airline company All Nippon Airways (ANA) has announced it will resume the scheduling of two direct flights per week from Tokyo’s Narita International Airport to Phnom Penh International Airport between Dec 1, 2020 and Jan 31, 2021.

The resumption was attributed to the strengthening of quarantine measures in each region, changes in immigration conditions and other precautions being implemented, as well as an increased demand in travel over the traditional holiday period.

According to the airline, the two round trip flights each week will depart on Wednesdays and Saturdays on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner which has a capacity of 184 people.

The flights will depart from Narita at 4pm, arriving in Phnom Penh at 9pm, and depart Phnom Penh at 10:50pm, arriving in Narita at 06:40+1am.

According to the company’s website, one-way class fares have been set at $719 for economy and $1,507 for business.

In addition, ANA will also increase the number of flights serving the Narita to Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City and Yangon corridors

According to the company’s full statement released yesterday All Nippon Airways will temporarily change flight frequency to select cities in Asia, Europe and North America.

“Based on changes to immigration guidelines, recently instituted public health quarantine measures and passenger demand, the company has adjusted its flight schedules from December to January for select routes,” it said.

“ANA will continue to monitor local immigration restrictions and quarantine guidelines as well as demand trends and travel viability as it decides on the frequency of flights and when to resume certain routes,” it added.

According to the data released by Cambodia Airports, October passenger traffic is currently down 92 percent at the Phnom Penh International Airport (37,908 people) compared with the same month last year, with year-to-date passenger traffic down 74.2 percent (1,271,000 passengers) compared with 2019.

The pandemic has affected bilateral trade between Cambodia and Japan. Worth $1.548 billion in the third quarter of 2020, it is down 25 percent compared with the same period last year, according to the Japan External Trade Organisation.

Under current Ministry of Health requirements, all foreigners must get a visa from a Cambodian embassy and passengers must be tested within 72 hours of their departure.

Everyone, including Cambodian nationals, are tested upon arrival at the airport, quarantined and tested again after 13 days.

Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway construction to be complete on schedule

Cambodia’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport has confirmed that the construction of the country’s first-ever expressway will complete as planned despite the COVID-19 crisis.

Vasim Sorya, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said late last week that as of November, the construction is 27 percent complete and the construction process has reportedly been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Generally, the construction does not seem to be affected, but the construction firm’s staff, who had left for China, have not come back yet,” he said, mentioning the delay in transportation of some construction materials due to the pandemic.

The firm has been committed to complete the construction as planned, he added.

The $2 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway project is being developed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC). Scheduled to open by March 2023, the expressway is divided into four lanes with a total length of 190 kilometres across five cities and provinces.