By May Kunmakara
Prime Minister Hun Sen will be opening the 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting and related meetings will kick off August 27 in Siem Reap, the centre of Khmer culture and civilization in Cambodia, and will run to September 1, according to the Ministry of Commerce.
The meeting will be to discuss many topics concerned with trade liberalisation and economic cooperation among the 10 ASEAN member states.
The dialogue willl include China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India, the United States, Canada and Russia as participants.
Cambodia’s ASEAN Economic Minister Cham Prasidh told the Post at the sideline of the seventh meeting of the ASEAN Economic Community in March that Cambodia [as host country] will push forward with plans for inclusive growth to eliminate the inequality due to the development gap among ASEAN member states during their chairmanship this year.
Cham Prasidh said that the ASEAN’s older members, such as Singapore and Malaysia, have developed much faster compared to the youngest members. In order to make the ASEAN economic community a reality by 2015 Cambodia will try as much as possible to lessen the gap.
“We are a new member; we know that we have a large development gap to contend with when compared to the older members — that’s very big. So, we are trying to develop in a manner that allows for inclusive growth because it can be beneficial to all members,” he said.
“During our chairmanship, we want to decrease the gap, so it becomes smaller and smaller; not only growing ourselves but all members,” said Cham Prasidh. “We do believe that we will achieve this goal.
“We will grow faster than them [older ASEAN members] because we are small and versatile. As I mentioned before, we’re starting from scratch; our development will be faster than developed members, who can afford to go at slower phase,” he added.
According to the press release from the Ministry of Commerce, the ASEAN economic ministers will also have joint meetings with the 26th ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) Council and the 15th ASEAN Investment Area (AIA) Council. There will also be a consultation meeting between ASEAN economic ministers and the head of the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The 10 members of ASEAN’s combined population is 600 million and its GDP reached US$2 trillion in 2011 and its total trade was $2.2 trillion — of which 26 per cent was intra-region.
Furthermore, it attracted almost $80 billion in foreign direct investment, according to data from the International Monetary Fund.
ASEAN has projected that its economic growth will be between 5.6 per cent and 6.3 per cent for 2012 after last year’s moderate growth of 4.5 per cent.
Photo Credit: The Phnom Penh Post