Cambodia

‘No Rush’ For Cambodia on Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement, Experts Say

A man working at a money exchange (R) passes 100 Cambodian riel notes to a client  in central Phnom Penh, file photo. A man working at a money exchange (R) passes 100 Cambodian riel notes to a client in central Phnom Penh, file photo.
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A man working at a money exchange (R) passes 100 Cambodian riel notes to a client  in central Phnom Penh, file photo.
A man working at a money exchange (R) passes 100 Cambodian riel notes to a client in central Phnom Penh, file photo.
Khoun ThearaVOA Khmer
PHNOM PENH - Two ambitious trade negotiations are moving forward in the Asia Pacific, but Cambodia should first pursue a regional partnership before joining in with all of the Asia Pacific, trade experts say.

Cambodia should build momentum on the existing Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, an Asean-driven agreement, before considering the US-supported Trans-Pacific Partnership, experts say.

The RCEP is a deal between Asean nations and the governments of Australian, China, India, South Korea and New Zealand, and groups together about $17 trillion in annual GDP.

The TPP, on the other hand, includes countries from around the Pacific Rim, including the US, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, Peru, Canada, Mexico, Chile, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan—putting together about $28 trillion in GDP.

Chheang Vannarith, a senior research fellow at the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, called the TPP the “gold standard” of trade agreements.

However, he said, “I am afraid that it requires adequate capacity to reform and adapt to such a high standard.”

“There is no rush” for Cambodia to join, he said. “It needs to focus on the regional free trade area.”

Both deals reflect regional economies and political will and would strengthen economic integration, he said. But they also will challenge the World Trade Organization, which is “slow” at facilitating free trade in some goods and services.

The newer, robust deals also deal in goods and services, but they also involve flows of investment, competition policies, and the protection of intellectual property and the environment, Chheang Vannarith said.

Mel Kalyan, a senior adviser to the government’s Supreme National Economic Council, said that several countries in Southeast Asia are looking to join in the TPP.

“So we should also be ambitious and should not put all our fish in one basket,” he said. “We should diversify our trading partners, but at the moment, joining the TPP is beyond Cambodia’s reach, so we should enhance our competitiveness in the RCEP first.”

To do that, Cambodia will need a stronger export capacity and better human resources that can contribute to production, Chheang Vannarith said. That could mean moving from a labor-intensive economy to one that is more knowledge based, he said.
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Land Victim Lawyer Seeks US Support on ICC Casei
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21 January 2015
A petition filed at the International Criminal Court in October 2014 alleged that a group of politicians, security chiefs and business magnates in Cambodia have involved in systematic illegal seizures of land from poor people. They committed various crimes as part of their campaign, which included murder, forcible transfer of populations, illegal imprisonment, persecution, and other inhumane acts, according to Richard Rogers of Global Diligence. VOA Khmer Men Kimseng interviewed Richard Rogers while he was in Washington DC last week to seek international support and explain to Cambodian diaspora community in the US about the case.

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