Excellency Prime Minister, Chair of the Meeting!
Your Majesty the Sultan, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
It is my honor to attend this meeting to share my perspective on the business and investment environment during this globally challenging time.
There is concern and uncertainty in the world economic prospects over the past months while the global financial crisis has been aggravating. In the advanced economies, consumer and business confidence have dropped to levels that we have ever seen before, and general economic activities have also drastically decreased. The combination of financial crisis and shrinking advanced economies demand is having impacts on ASEAN economies which could cause significant negative effects.
Indeed, each country is actively taking bold measures in order to reverse short-term impact from the crisis including measures to strengthen management and restore confidence in financial sector as well as measures to promote growth and protect social welfare of the people. In my view, in addition to our efforts at the national level, strengthening and accelerating regional cooperation and integration in important sectors is necessary to ensure sustainable economic growth. The strengthening of regional cooperation in financial sector will enhance its resilience to the crisis as well as its capacity to respond and address negative impacts from the crisis. The promotion of regional economic integration will enlarge the scale of our regional market and enhance regional trade and investment, which is an important factor in reducing the overtly dependence on outside markets and increasing our competitiveness in attracting investment to our region. Indeed, the success in these efforts will only be possible when we, governments, private sector and development partners concerned, speed up our cooperation and expand its coverage to be more comprehensive by focusing on policy coordination, law, rules, regulation and procedures related to business, trading and investment; building institutional capacity and human resources; investing in building linkages of physical infrastructures, and removing trade barriers in particular eliminating the development gaps in the region in order to strengthen our competitiveness as a big regional economic block.
In this regard, the role of ASEAN Business Advisory Council is vital for information sharing, promoting business and investment activities and linking private sector with the potential projects in different ASEAN countries. Thus, I would encourage business sectors of the ASEAN countries to meet regularly in order to strengthen their cooperation and develop a concrete action plan to bring projects forward in various potential sectors namely in agriculture and agro-industry; energy, including bio-energy and electricity; infrastructure network linkages; tourism, especially cultural and eco-tourism; and oil and gas and mining sectors. Moreover, we should also give attention to a special partnership between governments of the ASEAN member countries with private sector in developing and implementing special economic zones (SEZs) along the border areas.
Due to the unfavorable climate resulting from the financial crisis and global economic downturn, the economic growth in Cambodia in 2008 is estimated to reach around 7 percent compared to 10 percent annually in the last four years. The growth in 2009 is predicted to slow down even further. In the difficult situation, the Royal Government has taken systematic and well-sequenced measures in order to ensure macro-economic stability and strong financial sector as well as to stimulate growth through fiscal measures, trade facilitation and investment. The Royal Government has also focused on further strengthening the social safety net for the people. In this sense, the Royal Government warmly welcomes the private sector who wants to seize the opportunities in this difficult circumstance to share “Win-Win” situation with us to tackle our challenges together in the short term and to strengthen the foundation and sustainability of regional growth in the long term through their investment and business activities.
In the spirit of achieving a caring and sharing community in ASEAN, I would like to wish all of you good health and success in all endeavors.