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Economy

Cambodia economic zone eyes companies fleeing Thai costs

New industrial park along the border hooks into regionwide business corridor

Sumitronics has set up a factory inside a new industrial park in western Cambodia near the Thai border.

POIPET, Cambodia -- The operator of Cambodia's Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone opened a new industrial park close to the Thai border on Monday, in hopes of attracting manufacturers seeking a second Southeast Asian hub amid rising wages in Thailand.

The roughly 70-hectare Poipet Special Economic Zone is located about 8 km from the border and is a four-hour drive from Bangkok. It serves as a key link in the economic corridor that extends from Bangkok all the way south to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Japan's Sumitomo Corp. serves as the park's real estate agent. Sumitronics Manufacturing, a Sumitomo subsidiary that makes electric equipment on contract, has already opened a new factory there.

Labor costs in Cambodia are about half what they are in Thailand. Qualifying companies will also enjoy tax breaks and other privileges at the Poipet economic zone.

"I want to highlight how cheap production costs are here," said Hiroshi Uematsu, CEO of Phnom Penh SEZ. The company is majority-Cambodian owned, with Japanese real estate company Zephyr holding a 15% stake.

Another industrial park in the western Cambodian city, Techno Park Poi Pet, was opened by Japanese trading house Toyota Tsusho in 2016.

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