Phnom Penh’s port saw an increase in cargo volume and revenue over the first quarter of the year, while the country’s only international port in Sihanoukville saw a slight decrease, according to official reports.
In Phnom Penh, a rise in goods moving through the port brought to the government a 32 percent increase of revenue compared to the same time last year. Sihanoukville lost 1 percent this quarter compared to last year.
Revenue from Phnom Penh’s port totaled $279,981 in the first quarter of this year. Sihanoukville brought $4,103,783 to coffers.
Chea Sambath, planning officer for the Sihanoukville port, said the port was stable because the “economy in general is stable.”
Officials expect an upturn in volume and revenue during the third quarter of the year, following the renewal of import and export contracts between businesses. And, he said, despite revenue leveling off between 2000 and 2001, the Sihanoukville port saw a 44 percent increase between 1999 and 2000.
The government’s budget target for revenue from Sihanoukville is 12 percent, meaning revenue will now have to increase 13 percent over the next three quarters of the year.
Officials said they expect even greater increases in revenue at the Phnom Penh port. Vietnam’s Minister of Commerce will fly to Phnom Penh in May to meet his counterpart, Cham Prasidh, and the ministers are expected to sign an agreement making it easier for ships to pass through Vietnam and into the capital, said Hei Bavy, general director for Phnom Penh’s port authority.
Currently, ships must be inspected when they enter Vietnam from the South China Sea, then be inspected again when they exit. They are also inspected upon entry into Cambodia and on arrival in Phnom Penh, he said.
The agreement between the countries would allow for only two inspections, one upon entry into Vietnam, and upon arrival in Phnom Penh, Hei Bavy said.
“We knew clearly for ourselves that right now Phnom Penh is not yet popular for business activity,” he said. “But we are trying hard to make it better.”