ASEAN leaders and business community need to enhance and deepen the ASEAN Economic Integration and promote intra-ASEAN trade and investment as the world experiences geopolitical tensions and economic uncertainties, urged Prime Minister Hun Manet in his first overseas speech.
Speaking at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) 2023 in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sept 4, which is his inaugural appearance abroad since taking on the premiership role, Manet shared his concern that ASEAN member states are all undergoing a difficult time with huge uncertainties.
“Geopolitical rivalry between major powers is tightening, causing constant changes to regional and global economy and trade. The ongoing Ukraine War has directly and indirectly caused ripple effects from the disruption of supply chains and slower growth of the world economy.
“To achieve common prosperity under present circumstances in the region, it is imperative that the strengthening and deepening of ASEAN Economic Integration [happens] to further contribute to narrowing the development gap within ASEAN,” Manet said.
In that, the promotion of intra-ASEAN trade and investment, in particular, ought to be meaningful and leave no one behind.
“In order to realise this vision, ASEAN must strive in a concerted effort to secure a timely conclusion of a better, forward-looking, and more practical ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement upgrade,” he stressed.
Equally important, he said, ASEAN should “fully and effectively” utilise the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), while ensuring that the existing ASEAN free trade agreements and economic cooperation with ASEAN dialogue partners remain “critically important and relevant for businesses and investors”.
ASEAN should also take full advantage of the change in economic architecture to become more resilient, by accelerating inclusive ASEAN digital transformation, enhancing the participation of micro- small- and- medium enterprises in regional and global supply chains.
Kith Meng, Cambodia Chamber of Commerce president, who participated in ABIS, said under Manet’s new leadership, Cambodia would move to the next level of economic development, which is in line with the vision to transform the country into a high-income economy by 2050.
“He [Manet] stands as a dynamic and devoted leader, characterised by his remarkable intellect and unwavering commitment to the country and her citizens,” he said.
Meanwhile, Manet told the ASEAN conference that Cambodia has sustained an economic growth of seven per cent per annum.
When he assumed the premiership in the seventh election, a national overarching strategy, called the Pentagonal Strategy, was launched.
He said the overall strategic mission is to safeguard peace and accelerate national development to achieve the goal of high-income nation status.
The government encourages the private sector to play a key role in contributing to Cambodia’s remarkable prosperity.
“Improving the business and investment climate has always been one of the top priorities of the government,” he told ASEAN participants.
To promote business and investment with sufficient incentives, protection, predictability and opportunities, the government implemented the Law on Investment and the Law on Public-Private Partnership, and signed bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements.
“Cambodia welcomes all prospective investors to the Kingdom, where there are abundant opportunities,” Manet said.
Early August, Kong Sang, chairman of Textile, Garment, Footwear and Travel Goods Association of Cambodia (TAFTAC), said they would continue working with the new government through various mechanisms, particularly via the government-private sector forum, to further improve the investment environment to ensure increased competitiveness in the private sector.