Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dzung,
Excellencies, Heads of the CLMV Governments
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
This Fourth Summit is an opportunity for us as the Leaders to provide further guidance on the implementation of the revised action plan that we adopted unanimously at the third Summit in Cebu, the Philippines early 2007.
I would like to thank our ministers and senior officials for their hard work and utmost effort in timely translating the revised action plan into a list of project proposals with costing, source of financing and specific timeframes in the prioritized fields of cooperation. I am pleased that our officials eventually were able to ensure that there is no duplication of CLMV action plan with other cooperation mechanisms particularly at the project levels. However, the tasks ahead of us are to work out innovative and creative mechanism including financing in order to translate the projects into actual implementation.
Before going to make a review on areas of cooperation under CLMV framework, please allow me to briefly raise the issue of the current financial crisis which is the concern for all over the world. According to assessments by experts, the current financial crisis being witnessed in the United States and other developed countries would have some negative impacts on our economies. Unlike the build-up to the 1997 Asian financial crisis, there are currently no signs of large current account deficits in our region and so far Asia’s banking sector remains healthy. Therefore, this region’s financial sector would be likely under the pressure of the global environment, though in general we hope that there would be no significant problems emerging. Nevertheless, our respective country as well as our whole region should enhance monitoring in the management and ensure macroeconomic and financial stability. Especially in the regional framework, the closer cooperation in financial and banking sectors should become our top priority.
Export growth has held up pretty well so far for much of the region, but it is likely to gradually slow down when the developed countries face the economic recession. The countries under large garment and textile sectors, which export to the US and European markets, will also be at risk. Moreover, financial crisis and world economic recession will slow down the flow of investment and tourists into our region. This would have negative impacts on developing economies like CLMV.
In response to this critical challenge, we should also see that our region as well as our respective country still has enormous potential through promoting cooperation and regional integration in order to enlarge economy of scale, strengthen trade, promote investment and enhance tourism. Moreover, the world food shortage is opening a new opportunity for us to jointly diversify our economies to a greater extent through rural development and the increase in agricultural production, which will strengthen our sustainable growth.
Therefore, this time is very critical for all of us to jointly find ways to strengthen our bilateral and multilateral cooperation to a higher level, especially among CLMV countries by focusing on agriculture, linkage of physical infrastructure, trade, investment promotion and tourism.
Let me now return to our main areas of cooperation under CLMV framework. By giving equal importance to the 9 areas of cooperation, Cambodia has submitted 20 projects to promote cooperation in agriculture, industry and energy, tourism and transport. Cambodia highly appreciates the initiative of Vietnam to establish CLMV Scholarship Scheme for vocational and post-graduate training. I believe this is a very practical project to lead the HRD cooperation. At the same time, Cambodia attaches a lot of importance to trade and investment promotion among members. Trade fair is also a practical and easy start project which will help increase trade and investment flows among and between the CLMV countries with the outside.
Cooperation in transport is also indispensable for CLMV as we want to make the best use of economic corridors across the CLMV countries such as the East-West Economic Corridor, the Southern Economic Corridor under the GMS. In this regard, Cambodia continues to promote the feasibility study of the construction of 67 km of National road NR 301A from Siem Pang (Stung Treng Province, Cambodia) to Cambodia/Lao PDR border. Moreover, Cambodia urges the Transportation Working Group to conduct the studies of road links from Siem Reap-Stung Treng (Cambodia)-Champasak (Laos) and Siem Reap (Cambodia)-Koh Khong-Champasak (Laos). We have seen very clearly that transport linkages alone can contribute to the better cooperation among the CLMV member countries.
Cambodia proposes to seek funding for the building of the border check-point between Cambodia-Laos at Trapeang Kreal as well as to upgrade the National Road 7 from Stung Treng to Trapeang Kreal. Cambodia also requests continued works to upgrade the road from from Banlung (Rattanakiri) to the Cambodian-Vietnamese border at O Yadav (70 km). Another important initiative is the upgrading of the existing Southern Economic Corridor to the level of Primary Highway with four-lane class. Last in our proposal in the transport sector is to further find financing for the construction of the missing railway link between Bat Deng-Loc Ninh to complete the construction of the SKRL (Singapore-Kunming Rail Link) project.
I believe that all of these projects under our cooperation framework now need a permanent support structure. It is time to think of institutionalize CLMV cooperation by establishing working groups for each sector. The working groups can then tackle project financing issue which remains a fundamental challenge for CLMV. The working groups should be tasked to resolve this financial issue in several areas as follows:
Firstly, Domestic resource mobilization among the CLMV countries and exploring the feasibility of establishing a CLMV Fund to be used to provide seed money to CLMV projects;
Secondly, Enhanced cooperation with ASEAN Secretariat and the dialogue partners to seek financing under the IAI framework.
Thirdly, Encouraged participation of Private sector in projects;
Fourthly, Joint effort to improve market access to products originated from the CLMV countries, and seeking special treatment from development partners for market access under the frameworks of the ASEAN Integration System of Preference (AISP);
Fifthly, collective work to generate support for our initiatives under bilateral and multilateral frameworks, particularly in attracting international financing from ADB and other development partners.
Another important point in promoting implementation of this cooperation is a consideration on the necessity of setting up monitoring mechanism to oversee implementation of action plan and its projects that we have put forward if we want to bring significant benefit. We should task our SOM Officials to regularly meet and update the Leaders on the list of CLMV project.