Thursday, 02 October 2014

Economy

Alongside Clinton Diplomacy in Cambodia, Talk of Trade

Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. in March.Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. in March.
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Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. in March.
Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. in March.
Nash JenkinsVOA Khmer

WASHINGTON DC - Several US officials traveled to Phnom Penh last week with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, comprising a broad effort to strengthen American ties with Cambodia and the region. 

 

Among them was Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sanchez, who met with economic officials and business leaders on Friday at the inaugural US-Asean Business Forum in Siem Reap. 

 

“There are several growing markets in Southeast Asia, so it’s a priority in terms of exports,” Mara Lee, a Commerce Department spokeswoman, told VOA Khmer on Friday. “The undersecretary has invested a lot of time in facilitating trade relations with the region.” 

 

Sanchez’s efforts contributed to the ongoing discourse between the US and Cambodia this week, centered on the weeklong Asean Regional Forum in Phnom Penh. 

 

The freshly strengthened ties between the two countries are part of an ongoing “pivot to Asia” policy, an attempt to establish American political and economic footing in the region in the face of a China’s growing influence. 

 

Sanchez was joined at the forum on Friday by Clinton and Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Robert Hormats. 

 

The dialogue of the day stressed the potential for strong commercial relations between the United States and Southeast Asia. The audience consisted primarily of representatives from Asean’s 10 countries and executives from American companies with a presence in the region. 

 

“American companies can provide infrastructure and energy to countries like Burma,” Lee said. “It’s an exciting opportunity in terms of the link between promoting an economy and promoting a people.”

 

In a week dominated by rhetoric and some disappointment, particularly Asean’s failure to progress toward a resolution of the South China Sea issue, Friday’s meeting saw clear progress. 

 

For example, American energy giant General Electric signed a contract with the SOMA Group, a Cambodian industrial conglomerate, to provide them with gas engine technology to power a biomass-energy initiative in the Cambodian countryside. 

 

The deal helps with US President Barack Obama’s National Export Initiative goal of doubling US exports by 2014, which has yielded a $6 billion jump in annual exports to Asean countries in the last year alone. Exports to Southeast Asia totaled at $76 billion in 2011.
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Cambodia Foreign Minister UN Speech Touches More on World Issues, Less on Cambodiai
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29 September 2014
Cambodian Foreign Minister Hor Namhong's speech to the UN’s General Assembly on Monday in New York touches more on world issues and less on Cambodia. Before delivering his speech at UNGA, Hor Namhong told VOA Khmer that Cambodia was now enjoying peace and political stability after the two winning political parties in 2013 election had agreed to work together. His speech comes as Cambodia’s profile on the world stage has expanded in recent years. Cambodia has and improved economy and a growing participation in UN missions around the world. But Hor Namhong’s speech also comes amid deep criticism of Cambodia’s human rights record and a controversial agreement with Australia to help it resettle refuges in exchange for aid money. (VOA Khmer's Pin Sisovann, Washington)

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