Cambodia lags behind many of its Asean neighbors, a leading analyst says, while at the same time many Cambodians remain unaware of its benefits.
Cambodia is the chair of Asean this year and last week hosted a major summit of Asean countries. That makes for “a great opportunity” for government leaders to promote awareness among its people, said Chheang Vannarith, executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, as a guest on “Hello VOA” Thursday.
A lack of Asean awareness puts Cambodia at a disadvantage as the region moves closer to full economic integration in 2015. This would mean a regional free flow of goods and services, investment, capital and labor in just three years, although some experts doubt this will happen on time.
Khoun Theara, a senior in international studies at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said Cambodian youth are not prepared for such integration, especially in agriculture and tourism, where Cambodia could have some advantages.
Chheang Vannarith said Cambodia also needs more scientific knowledge and skills to be competitive.
Cambodia will see some benefits from integration, he said, including cheaper imports and the opportunity to export products to a wider market.
Asean has played an important role in regional peacekeeping, economic growth and the creation of a wider security system in the Asia Pacific, he said.