Cambodia asks South Korea for help with $37bn transport masterplan

Cambodia South Korea
Foster + Partners’ trademark diagrid is deployed once more at the terminal for the forthcoming Techo Takhmao International Airport (Foster + Partners)

Cambodia has invited South Korea to invest in its $37bn, 10-year programme of infrastructure improvements, the Khmer Times reports.

Cambodia’s public works minister Peng Ponea made the request to Park Jung-Wook, Seoul’s ambassador to Phnom Penh, who led a delegation from the Korea Economic Development Cooperation Fund.

Korea is trying to boost the export earnings of its construction industry, which has been a formidable competitor in global markets in the past.

Approved in August last year, Cambodia’s Comprehensive Intermodal Transport and Logistic System 2023-33 lists 174 projects including roads, railways, waterways, airways, logistics parks, and ports.

Cambodia wants to develop higher-tech industries to replace low-wage sectors like textiles.

The plan requires major production and urban centres to be better connected.

Building up capacity

Projects like the Phnom Penh Logistics Complex and its Sihanoukville counterpart are intended to build up capacity for storing, moving and processing goods.

So far, Seoul has agreed to help finance the Cambodia-Korea Friendship Bridge over the Mekong River between Phnom Penh and the rural district of Arey Ksat to the east.

Cambodia and Korea signed a $246m loan agreement in December 2022, and work on the cable-stayed structure is expected to begin imminently.

Other schemes prioritised by the masterplan include:

  • The Bassac Sea Link Project, a $1.5bn, 180km canal linking Phnom Penh to Cambodia’s sea ports;
  • Techo Takhmao International Airport (pictured), being built south of Phnom Penh;
  • A tolled motorway between Phnom Penh and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, being built by China Road and Bridge, a subsidiary of China Communications, as a public-private partnership;
  • A $1bn Japanese-financed container terminal at Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, which aims to transform it into a Southeast Asian hub by 2029;
  • A $1.5bn port and logistics centre in the southwest state of Kampot, 600ha in area, undertaken by a joint venture between the Shanghai Construction Group and China Road and Bridge;
  • A $4bn medium-speed railway that will run for 382km between Phnom Penh and the Thai border.

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