Is there such a thing as a ‘green’ SEZ in Cambodia?

By definition, special economic zones are not green. Yet Cambodia, now overrun by foreign-financed SEZs, is trying to rewrite the concept. Success remains elusive.

Svay Rieng, a town in south-eastern Cambodia, is both a gateway to Vietnam and for more than a decade now a hotbed of Cambodian industrial development. But a lack of compliance with environmental and labour regulations has raised tensions with local communities.

The region is home to almost a dozen industrial parks, many of them the direct result of Cambodia’s growing integration with Chinese industry.

A new and more hopeful precedent was set last November, when Qilu (Cambodia) Special Economic Zone Co Ltd signed a US$1 billion strategic cooperation deal with a Chinese industrial park developer to set up a “green” special economic zone (SEZ) in the province.

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