(Dan Tri) – Cambodia’s Sihanoukville city is full of unfinished or abandoned projects after Chinese investors withdrew due to the impact of Covid-19 and measures to control casino business activities.

An abandoned project in Sihanoukville, Cambodia (Photo: Nikkei Asia).

Nikkei Asia newspaper reported last weekend that the wave of withdrawal of Chinese real estate companies has left behind hundreds of `ghost projects` in the Cambodian resort city of Sihanoukville.

One of them is a 10-story building located on land owned by Pan Sombo, a 51-year-old elementary school teacher.

In 2019, when Cambodia was in a real estate `fever`, a Chinese investor proposed building an apartment building on this 750m2 piece of land.

However, when Covid-19 broke out, investors returned to China and said they could not return to Cambodia.

Sihanoukville is full of such projects.

With a prime location on the coast of the Gulf of Thailand, Sihanoukville boomed in the mid-2010s amid a wave of investment from China.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the development momentum of the city and Cambodia in general.

Investment capital flow back to Sihanoukville is slow after the pandemic due to the Cambodian government’s control of casinos and Chinese real estate declining.

In January, Prime Minister Hun Manet announced tax breaks and incentives for license applications to encourage investors to rescue ghost buildings in Sihanoukville.

However, according to expert Ky Sereyvath at the Institute of China Studies of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, this policy will be difficult to be effective in the context of slow global economic growth.

Cambodia depends heavily on investment capital from China.

`Investment from other countries will find it difficult to fill the gap left by China,` said the director of a Cambodian construction company.

According to a local official, Sihanoukville needs to diversify both industry and investment countries to have a more dynamic economy.

Japanese companies have a smaller presence in Cambodia than in some other Southeast Asian countries, but Japan has supported Sihanoukville port – Cambodia’s only deep-water port for about three decades.