A government delegation left on Tuesday for Tokyo and Geneva hoping to mobilize foreign donor assistance for Cambodia’s fledgling export sector and push the country’s new plan to reduce poverty by boosting exports.
Delegation head Sok Siphana, secretary of state for the Commerce Ministry, said more export-focused investments could raise people’s living standards in localized areas.
The delegation will attend an investment promotion symposium in Tokyo and meet with six multilateral donor agencies in Geneva to discuss Cambodia’s efforts to push its own trade strategy forward.
Sok Siphana said donor agencies are finally paying attention to the trade sector, which largely has been excluded from donor support.
“The trade sector was never part of it. We were isolated,” he said. “[But] with supports from six multilateral donors and other bilateral donors, we are trying to make the sector more productive.”
According to a preliminary strategy paper, the export sector has been Cambodia’s fastest growing industry, with an annual growth rate as high as 20 percent to 25 percent over the past five years.
The manufacturing sector follows with annual growth averaging 9.5 percent and the service sector following with a 4.5 percent average annual increase.
The agriculture sector, which employs more than 75 percent of the country’s labor force, remains the slowest growing sector, contributing to the widespread poverty found throughout Cambodia, the paper states.
Cambodia needs to identify regional export strengths and then encourage foreign investment in those areas, the paper states.
The government also needs to develop technological support systems, and establish financial and information services for both local entrepreneurs and their foreign backers, according to the paper.
At the same time, Cambodia needs to create regionalized markets countrywide for various locally generated products, ranging from agricultural goods to manufacturing or tourism.
In Geneva the delegation will work to identify potential growth areas, analyzing impacts on economic development and mobilizing donor support, Sok Siphana said.
Discussions will include the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization.
“Donors see Cambodia as a case study for other least developed countries,” Sok Siphana said. “We will develop a concrete action plan for it.”
The plan will be delivered at the upcoming Least Developed Countries meeting in Brussels in May and the next Consultative Group meeting in Tokyo in June, he said.
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