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Cambodia and Switzerland celebrate ten years of economic cooperation launching $61M Mekong Region fund

Gareth Johnson

The Swiss Cooperation Office in Cambodia has celebrated a decade of cooperation with Cambodia launching its $61 million 2022 – 2025 Mekong Region Swiss Cooperation Program.

The event held at Factory Phnom Penh was attended by Minister of Labour and Vocational Training H.E Ith Samheng, Senior Minister & First Vice President of Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) H.E. Ly Thuch, H.E Helene Budliger Artieda, Swiss Ambassador to Cambodia, as well as 160 participants representing the diplomatic, private and NGO sectors.

2022 – 2025 Mekong Region Swiss Cooperation Program

According to H.E Budliger Artieda the Bangkok-based ambassador to Cambodia, the Swiss Cooperation Program in the Mekong Region 2022-2025 will focus on the region as a whole and prioritize both Cambodia and Laos for developmental aid.

Over the four-year program, she stated that the Kingdom would receive approximately $61 million directly as part of its overall country budget, as well as approximately $29.2 million through Mekong regional projects. 

To read more about the cooperation plan click here.

The majority of this aid would now be shifted from the agricultural and horticultural sectors to fighting climate change, as well as effective natural resource management. Politically the ambassador also pointed out the reliability of Switzerland as a strategic economic partner for Cambodia.

Cambodia and Switzerland
Cambodia and Switzerland – Traditional Khmer-dancers performed at the celebration event.

“Switzerland is firmly committed to neutrality, so we do not come here with any hidden agenda at all. We value our longstanding partnership with the Royal Cambodian Government, private sector, international organizations, as well as civil society. We are here to contribute to the future of this beautiful country and its people, young and old,” she said.

Following the speeches attendees were treated to an exhibition featuring presented by various Swiss NGOs and private sector companies, followed by a networking event.

The Swiss Cooperation Office

First set up in 2012 the Swiss Cooperation Office was originally designed to facilitate business between the two countries but has since expanded to include a consular section.

The consular office represents the more than 400 Swiss individuals currently resident within the Kingdom, as well as the large number of tourists that have visited the country during this period, according to the Swiss ambassador.

The office was also active in several humanitarian projects within the country, particularly with regard to the de-mining sector, specifically the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Deming (GICHD).

Speaking to Cambodia Investment Review about the impact of Swiss development aid H.E Ly Thuch Vice-President of the CMAA said: “With their kindest contributions to mine action many lives have been saved, lots of amputations have been avoided, and many rural Cambodians have a better life and future.

“And on behalf of those communities and of the royal government, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to Switzerland and her great people for their generosity and compassion extending to Cambodia,” he added.

Cambodia and Switzerland
The event held at Factory Phnom Penh also showcased Swiss products in Cambodia. – Cambodia and Switzerland

To read more about Cambodia de-mining efforts click here.

The Swiss ambassador also pointed out other strategic areas with which the Swiss government was helping within the Kingdom, which included particular emphasis on poverty reduction, as well as helping marginalized groups such as women and the disabled.

This was a point echoed by Minister of Labour and Vocational Training H.E Ith Samheng who thanked Switzerland and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), a major donor that has assisted Cambodia through various projects including economic development, improving governance, as well as fighting climate change.

He also stated his intention to arrange a delegation to visit Switzerland to learn firsthand about their various programs.

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