sihanoukville – Government and Indonesian Embassy officials celebrated the opening here last week of the first direct shipping line between Jakarta and Sihanoukville.
Indonesian shipping company MV Fokus plans to use the route to ship metal construction rods, agricultural equipment and other products to Cambodia. Cambodian agricultural products—mostly rice—will be shipped through Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok Harbor port.
The ship will visit Sihanoukville two or three times a week and will also regularly visit ports in Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City to trade agricultural products, according to MV Fokus owner Andi Pacha. The direct route from Sihanoukville to Jakarta is about 1,600-km one way and takes 24 hours to complete, Andi Pacha said.
The ship will be registered in Cambodia and will fly the Cambodian flag, according to Andi Pacha. However, Andi Pacha promised that MV Fokus will avoid problems recently associated with many Cambodian-registered ships, and will not be used to carry illegal goods, drugs or migrants.
Indonesian Ambassador Nazaruddin Nasution said the new route is testimony to growing trade relations between Cambodia and Indonesia. He said Indonesia, which is one of the top rice producing nations in the world but also one of the most populous, wants to buy 50,000 tons of rice from Cambodia this year.
In 2001, Indonesia exported $72 million worth of goods, including export printing paper, textiles, batteries, cigarettes and monosodium glutamate to Cambodia, while importing $1 million worth of goods from Cambodia, the ambassador said. There are also a number of Indonesia investors in Cambodia who should be encouraged to use MV Fokus to send their products to their home country, he said.
“With this direct shipping line, I do believe that the trade volume between the two countries will significantly increase,” the ambassador said.
The company’s ship, also named the MV Fokus, has a crew of 24 Indonesians. If the shipping route turns out to be profitable, then the company could increase the numbers of ships and possibly hire a Cambodian crew, Andi Pacha said.