Special Economic Zones and Their EffectsWhile Cambodia has introduced numerous policies in order to attract FDI, its Special Economic Zone (“SEZ”) policy is arguably one of the most instrumental measures in place. Governed by the Law on Investment, SEZs are geographical areas designated by the RGC within Cambodian borders where business and trade regulations differ from those that apply to the rest of the country. Featuring streamlined administrative procedures and high-quality infrastructure, the SEZs aim to facilitate export development, create employment, and promote diversification from traditional sectors through FDI. Surely, such investment-friendly environment has attracted significant FDI inflow and resulted in economic diversification to an extent, attracting a broader spectrum of foreign investment in Cambodia’s main industries.
Nevertheless, not all projected benefits of the SEZs may materialize. For instance, the RGC projects that the SEZs will, in the long-term, facilitate local development and disseminate technology to the rest of the Cambodian economy. However, according to the OECD, insufficient physical and economic infrastructure outside the SEZs may render such spillover benefits unattainable. Additionally, the OECD notes that Cambodia’s domestic small and medium-sized enterprises’ lack of capacity or skill to benefit and comply with certain international standards can deter foreign investors from engaging in business partnerships.
Moreover, experts and stakeholders have documented negative socioeconomic and environmental consequences. Despite some socioeconomic gains, real wages have not changed significantly while land values in the SEZs have increased. This suggests that landowners have disproportionately benefited from the SEZ program compared to the workers, exacerbating the current economic inequality in Cambodia. Furthermore, many SEZs are associated with biodiversity oppression driven by the proliferation of habitat destruction and black-market trades in wildlife products.
For more specific information regarding SEZs or any other topics pertinent to my briefing memo, visit https://opendevelopmentcambodia.net/.
PostludeAfter the first meal, lights are dimmed, in order to institute a relaxing atmosphere in which passengers can readily neglect time that is passing by ever so slowly. For many, this lighting seems operative of its intended effect, as they start drifting off, successfully entering the state best known for losing our sense of time. However, it still does not permeate its effect through the stubborn some, including myself, who are sleeplessly sitting through the ironic boredom of crossing the skies of multiple continents. With approximately ten hours left to go on this return flight from Incheon to Dulles, countless thoughts have already visited and left my mind in an attempt to divert my attention from this tedium. Although most thoughts were new or transient, the one regular that always pays me a visit in this setting surely didn’t forget to do so again this time. This visitor, as alluded in my third blog post, is the continued contemplation about my sense of “home.”
Perhaps it is the momentary placement of myself in this neutral zone—where I am not physically restrained by borders of any nation for approximately 14 hours—that enables a more impartial self-assessment.
As always, when I arrived at my childhood home and was once again in the presence of my family, I immediately sensed the unique familiarity and comfort that awaited. These feelings lasted through my entire stay in Korea and stayed behind once I set my foot on this plane. Undoubtedly, they had a different nuance from the familiarity and comfort that my Arlington residence induces in ways that are challenging to elaborate. Regardless, I know with certainty that my time in both places have constituted a significant portion of my identity, and both nuances have become parts of the feeling that I like to call home, equally. In this regard, maybe trying to designate a place to call home is futile. Maybe, the word “home” cannot be defined in the first place, like love or happiness, which are abstract concepts of emotions that contain meanings beyond the words of their definitions. So, maybe, what matters the most is the sense of home—something along the lines of a feeling of belongingness, comfort, and affinity that you yearn for after a long day or a journey. Despite its varying definitions, maybe this sense is universal.