Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning to all!
The people of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Royal Government of Cambodia are most pleased and honored to host the 8th Asia – Kyushu Regional Exchange Summit.
In behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, I welcome you all to our Land – Cambodia, and wish to convey our warmest greetings to all the participants to this 8th Asia – Kyushu Regional Exchange Summit. I am certain that you will enjoy the peace and tranquility that we have worked very hard to ensure here in Cambodia. I hope that while you are here in this “beautiful country”, you take this rare opportunity to visit the various landmarks and monuments, especially the Angkor Wat Temple which is of great architectural achievement. These people, forest and temples co-exist in prosperity and harmony – in the Complex of Angkor!
The Royal Government fully supports the principles and aspirations of the Asia – Kyushu Summit. The theme of the Summit: “Human Resources Development, Community Production Promotion and Sustainable Tourism Development through Regional Exchange,” resonates with our own long-term development vision for Cambodia. Therefore, let me say this: the Royal Government pledges to exert our best efforts to contribute at the maximum possible level, toward the fulfillment of the goals of the Asia – Kyushu movement!
We welcome you all to Cambodia, as our country is poised for prosperity. Over the past several years Cambodia has enjoyed stability, peace and economic growth denied to Cambodians for more than two decades of war and isolation. In the atmosphere of peace, the Royal Government has rapidly established an atmosphere of openness to attract investments and promote the growth of trade. We have opened our country and economy to embrace both diplomatic and liberal commercial relations with the rest of Asia and the World at large.
In the Second Term of this government, we have firmly and resolutely implemented the “Triangle Strategy,” as our political platform and development thrust. The strategy envisages a wide-ranging, long-term reform agenda that gradually but steadily integrates the economy of Cambodia into the region and the world, – ensuring peace and stability, modernization of Cambodian economy and governance which are all resulting in a long-term high and equitable economic growth and the poverty reduction.
Thus, the quest for regional and international economic integration constitutes one of the major pillars of the Royal Government’s strategy to promote sustainable socio-economic growth in Cambodia. We have worked hard to attain full membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. We are now actively preparing for Cambodia’s accession to the World Trade Organization.
The results of the hard work you can see around you in Cambodia today. Economic growth during the last three years has been maintained at the high average of 7%. Inflation has been constrained at close to zero and the exchange rate has remained firm. Overall, macroeconomic management targets have been achieved, enabling the continuing support of the international community. In June 2002, the meeting of the Consultative Group (CG) of Donors for Cambodia was held for the first time in Cambodia. At this meeting, the donor community pledged some US$685 million in new assistance to Cambodia.
Growth and peace in Cambodia has made possible for us to host an unprecedented number of very important international meetings and conferences in Cambodia. The Asia-Kyushu Summit is just one of the important meetings that contribute to the improvement of the credibility of Cambodia in the region and in the international arena. Over the past two weeks, a series of successful Summits took place in Phnom Penh. First was the Greater Mekong Subregion Summit on 3 November. Then on 4 and 5 November, the 8th ASEAN Summit was held followed by the ASEAN+3, ASEAN – China, ASEAN – Japan, ASEAN – South Korea and ASEAN – India Summits. Finally, a special meeting between the ASEAN and South Africa took place.
The success of the various important Summits presents a new momentum of Cambodia’s international and diplomatic policies. It sent a positive message to the outside world and improved the credibility of Cambodia, as a peaceful and fully secured and capable nation to engage, in equal foots, in the regional and world affairs.
Further Policy Reforms
So far in 2002, there have been some improvements in investments compared to 2001. However, the Royal Government is not satisfied even with such a positive result, since we believe we can and should do much better! Our philosophy is to make and enable private investment play a more pivotal role in spurring greater economic growth. To enable the private sector to become an engine of growth and employment, it requires appropriate regulation and institutional frameworks that all both national and foreign entrepreneurs believe of the favor environment for their investments. Thus, the Royal Government has focused on major policy actions to intensify legal and judicial reforms, institutional capacity building and streamlining of practical and transparent procedures that will improve Cambodia’s competitiveness as an important investment destination in the region.
Focusing on Human Resources Development
The theme of our Summit today emphasizes that human resources are the most valuable asset of a nation. The physical, intellectual and mental energy of human beings – strength, skills, knowledge, creativity and innovation embodied in human capital, will become increasingly crucial to transforming economic potentials and comparative advantages of the nation into the reality and competitiveness.
There are many more reasons, why we must give special attention to human resources development:
First, international experience shows that human resource development is crucial to alleviating poverty and upgrading living standards. Equitable access to primary education and health care, the opportunity to upgrade and improve the skills, the establishment of a favorable environment enabling the people utilize their full potentials and entrepreneurship, constitute key ingredients of any program to alleviate poverty. Moreover, human resource development is of crucial importance to a poor country like Cambodia, for our nation is struggling to overcome the horrendous legacy of genocide and the protracted wars in the past decades.
Second, our various countries in the Asia-Kyushu region are at various stages of development. There are countries which are at a significantly lower level of economic development than others. How can we ensure that all countries effectively engage on an equal footing with others – and thereby benefit from the open economy in the age of globalization and regionalization? It is crucial that all countries are able to participate in a “win-win” strategy of development partnership. I believe you all agree with me that Human resource development is key to success of this strategy.
Third, in the new millennium the globalization has resulted in a new, digitalized and knowledge-based economy. In this new economic system, the concept of production is replaced by the concept of intangibility which constitutes of intellectual capital, creativity and innovation. This economic system set new development paradigm where improvement in human resource capability plays a key role in ensuring the sustainability of a country’s development. Thus, it requires all governments to foster human resource development and promote their citizens’ intellectual capital in ensure their competitiveness in the Game of Economy.
Given all these important reasons, the Royal Government always values all the efforts and cooperation in human resource development as such the forum of Asia-Kyushu Summit.
Promoting Tourism Development
Complementing the policies and programs in support of development and poverty reduction is more intensive attention to the promotion of tourism. Cambodia is fortunate in having the civilization, which is one of the most ancient civilizations and is rich with countless cultural and natural heritages. However, we realize that we must do so much more to ensure that tourism is sustainable and truly leads to positive development. Thus we shall work closely with the private sector to develop tourist destinations. We are also encouraging ecology-friendly tourism management, to ensure the sustainability and permanent beauty of the monuments and Siem Reap.
The Royal Government has also devoted more attention to the development of the tourism potentials of areas other than Siem Reap. There are many underserved areas of tourism value in Cambodia – the tribal, mountain areas, the seaside areas and the Mekong River itself. Thus, the Royal Government encourages the development of access to ecotourism destinations such as Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri, beach tourism in our sea access areas to the South, the upgrading of the Kang Keng airport in Sihanoukville.
The Royal Government hopes that the ASEAN Tourism Agreement which was signed in the eighth ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh recently and the ASEAN Tourism Forum in January 2003 will contribute considerably to promoting tourism in Cambodia as well as in the region.
Building Our Foundations
On 29 July 2002, the Royal Government launched the Second Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2001-2005. The overall thrust of the SEDP2 is the reduction of poverty. Crucial to the reduction of poverty is the accelerated creation of employment, so that each Cambodian will have a dignified, human livelihood. Thus the promotion of labor-intensive micro and small-scale enterprises is at the heart of Cambodia’s medium-term plan to promote industrial development. This strategy is being pursued in priority areas such as the outskirts of Phnom Penh, and in Sihanoukville, Banteay Meanchey, and Koh Kong. In these areas, the Royal Government will enable the provision of micro-finance and marketing services streamline procedures, provide some training on production techniques, management and information.
Cambodia still has vast untapped resources and potentials in agriculture and livestock, particularly in high-value products and processed foods. Cambodia’s agricultural sector can provide jobs for so many if the rural sector is nurtured in a rational and sustainable manner. Thus the resolution of land issues and establishment of roads and irrigation, power, telecommunication and information systems are also key priorities of the Government in reducing the poverty and improving Cambodia’s competitiveness in the region and the world.
Toward National and International Unity and Peace
In the wake of the continuing wars and increase in terrible terrorist acts of the past year, humankind is confronted with sobering realizations. No nation can afford to be complacent in a world of plenty among a few and deprivation suffered by many. The contrasts are stark and painful, providing fertile ground for enmity, greed, and envy. Constructive engagement is key to the building of national, regional and international peace. The Royal Government is resolved and strongly committed to enhancing, in a systemic manner, all Democratic processes, respect of human right and dignity and peaceful resolution of issues.
We highly value the stability of political institutions, including the development of strong political parties that foster certainty in the society. The peaceful settlement of political disputes has become the norm of Cambodia’s political culture. In the common pursuit of national aspiration, reconciliation and development the two principal political parties – the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and the FUNCINPEC – have come to increasingly practice the art of compromise. Their pragmatism has served as the base for unity and stability for national development.
Cambodia has fully and actively engaged in the affairs and cooperation initiatives within sub-regional, regional and international frameworks. The Asia-Kyushu Regional Exchange Summit today, in Cambodia, is a clear evident of this idea and process.
It is my firm conviction that as we engage in these constructive frameworks, we are also building the frameworks of peace. That is why we welcome you all to Cambodia not only as visitors, but as friends and brothers.
Finally, I wish you all positive and fruitful discussions in this Summit and happy stay and good memory of Phnom Penh and our land of Angkor. I hope you will take this opportunity to learn more about Cambodia. Thank you very much!