The Cambodian government has outlined its annual economic and development agenda at the 78th United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) session held in Bangkok and led by Senior Minister H.E Ly Thuch, President of the National Committee for ESCAP.
During the event titled “A Common Agenda to Advance Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific” Cambodia laid out its hopes for future trade and integration, as well as reaching its 2030 sustainability goals.
UN ESCAP is an annual meeting established to increase economic activity in Asia and the Far East, as well as to foster economic relations between the region and other areas of the world. Cambodia is one of 53 member states located predominately in Asia and the Pacific and represents 4.1 billion people or roughly two-thirds of the world population.
Regional economic cooperation and recovery
Speaking directly to the ministerial segment “The Special Body of Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Pacific Island Developing States” H.E Ly Thuch stated: “The coronavirus pandemic has tested our region’s solidarity, unity and compassion, and at a national level, it has tested each country’s leadership, preparedness, financial and human resources, and resolve,”.
To read more about Cambodia’s strong vaccination drive click here.
With borders now slowly re-opening and the region slowly reaching a “new normal” the next step to improve regional economies was by further trade and integration with the Senior Minister stating “Cambodia would also like to encourage the opening of the economy and the strengthening of economic integration by promoting investment (and) trade through full implementation of Free Trade Agreements that have entered into force”
Cambodia has recently entered into Free Trade Agreements with both China and the Republic of Korea, as well as entering into negotiations with both India and Japan within EPAC about future bilateral agreements.
Tourism was another sector in which the region could mutually benefit from a unified response, with the Senior Minister stating “It is through the connection of people to people, especially in the tourism sector in which we can jointly revive and boost economic growth in the country and region in the post-COVID-19 environment”.
Cambodia as the current Chair of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is championing a unified set of Covid-19 entry requirements to jump-start the tourist sector within the block.
The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals
Reaching the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals was also described as of ‘paramount importance’ to the Kingdom, although it was acknowledged that these targets had been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United Nations have set 17 sustainability goals to be achieved by 2030 which were signed into force by Cambodia and 188 other UN Member States in 2015 with Cambodia.
The goals range from gender equality to fighting poverty, with Cambodia adding an 18th, namely “Ending the negative impact of mines/ERW and promote victim assistance”, a cause the Kingdom has long been championing globally.
To read about de-mining in Cambodia click here.
Despite these challenges, H.E Ly Thuch championed multilateralism, rather than isolationism as the key to progress, with the Senior Minister commenting: “Cambodia believes that achieving sustainable development requires joint decisions under multilateralism and with respect to international laws and the sovereignty of each nation. Cambodia is ready to join as both a country within the Asia-Pacific region and the Chair of ASEAN in 2022. Multilateralism is our hope and the United Nations is our beacon of hope”.