Excellency Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Chairman of the Meeting,
Your Royal Highnesses, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am greatly honored today to once again participate in this high level Asia-Europe Meeting. I am glad to meet here with Your Royal Highness, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen after the previous meetings.
First of all, I would like to express my deepest thanks to the Government of the People’s Republic of China for the warm welcome and hospitality, and the excellent arrangements for this important meeting.
Our successive meetings in the past have laid strong foundation to create and maintain our efforts in strengthening cooperation between the two continents in order to achieve mutual benefits and accommodation. I believe that the discussion and exchange of views and opinions today will add further to our progress and enable us to evaluate and review what we have actually achieved to consolidate and deepen our relations.
We meet today against the backdrop of global uncertainties since late 2007 arising from high volatility in the prices of crude oil and essential commodities, food shortages and the recent imploding of the financial crisis. The development of the crises has adversely affected millions of people, especially in Asia, putting at risk our hard earned gains in development and poverty reduction. In fact, high inflation greatly and firstly affects the poor, pushing many people sliding back to live below the poverty line. The unprecedented financial crisis we are facing today is threatening to turn the global economy into recession. This is another important issue, which creates stronger uncertainties for the developing countries in bringing about poverty alleviation to the people.
We warmly welcome the joint efforts between European Community and other major economies in the world to solve the current global financial crisis. Of course, many experts still consider that this issue will not be solved quickly. However, we hope that while focusing to solve this financial crisis on the short term solution, all developed countries will never forget the Millennium Development Agenda. Indeed, with the joint efforts to restore and maintain the economic and financial stability for the time being, it is necessary for us to implement the long term measures aiming at ensuring the cautious financial management in order to avoid future crisis, including the strengthening of the early warning mechanisms.
In sum, we have to understand that these challenges present valuable lessons for us and need to be turned into opportunities for our two continents through mutual cooperation and support, especially through the improvement of the inter-regional financial integration in order to prevent the global financial crisis and promote the development cooperation as well as economic, commercial and investment cooperation in order to accelerate growth and reduce poverty.
In this connection, Cambodia would like to welcome the joint policy measures recommended by Asia-Europe Ministers of Finance and would like to request to put these measures into an urgent and effective implementation.
Cambodia has produced sufficient food supply for domestic demand and some export. Moreover, the global food shortages provide us opportunities to diversify the economy more intensively through rural development and increase of agricultural productivity, which in turn make our economy growth more sustainable. The agriculture sector has directly contributed to the poverty reduction for 80 percent of people in rural areas. Thus, we would like to warmly welcome the recommendations and all kinds of cooperation from the European partners in order to achieve the above objectives by increasing investment and technological transfer and allowing more access for Cambodian agricultural products to the European markets.
It should be noted that our two continents share 50% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 60% of the global trade while our relation has reached a new level of dynamic development. But, trade between the two continents is low as we have not fully tapped from the tremendous trade and investment potential.
In this sense, the two continents have to strengthen cooperation in the field of trade and promote a robust multi-trading system in the context of the World Trade Organization. Cambodia strongly supports and calls for the resumption of Doha Round negotiation for the benefits of all countries in world.
As an ASEAM member country, Cambodia has actively participated in various initiatives to create the free trade areas and investment zones. Cambodia is always open for any business and welcomes all investors, who are particularly interested in investing or establishing firms in the Kingdom of Cambodia. The Royal Government of Cambodia regards the private sector as an engine for economic growth and is committed to ensuring favorable business climate including stability, transparency and predictability.
Cambodia also considers trade sector as a major factor for economic development. In this sense, the Royal Government of Cambodia has exerted utmost efforts to respond to various requirements for regional and global trade integration through introducing laws and regulations in order to make the finance, investment and trade sectors in Cambodia consistent with the international standards and norms. Cambodia strongly welcomes the Trade Facilitation Action Plan (TFAP) and Investment Promotion Action Plan (IPAP).
In the last decade, Cambodia has achieved remarkable economic growth, averaging around 9.5 percent per annum during 1999 to 2006 although there was unfavorable pressure resulting from high oil price. For the last three years starting from 2004 to 2006, the average annual economic growth reached 11.4 percent, which helps reduce poverty significantly. In this connection, Cambodia will implement the goals of international development cooperation and the outcome of the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to be held in Doha at the end of upcoming November 2008.
Finally, I hope that our meeting today will highlight our long term vision and the essence of trade and investment in each country as well as in our regions. I would like to encourage businessmen and investors to seize all investment opportunities to avail to the competitive advantages we have in order to contribute to the efforts of building a safe and prosperous and mutually supportive Asia and Europe and the world at large.
Thank you for your attention!