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Poorer Asian Countries Meet Amid Crisis

Cambodian officials began three days of meetings with economic representatives from eight impoverished Asian countries in Phnom Penh Tuesday in an effort to improve commerce and trade amid a widening global financial crisis.

“We will exchange experiences learned form each other and set up the mechanisms that can get those countries out of poverty,” Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said. “We will prepare a policy for trade and for the prevention of financial crisis.”

The minister said such exchanges were even more important now, “as the world is geared towards a painful and unprecedented global financial crisis.”

The regional economic workshop, sponsored by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, runs through Oct. 30.

Representatives from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Laos, the Maldives, Nepal, and Pakistan joined Cambodian officials from the ministries of Commerce, Finance, Industry, Telecommunications, Planning and Foreign Affairs, as well as the National Bank.

Among the eight countries, Bangladesh and Cambodia export the most garments and textiles to the world market. The garment industry provided $2.7 billion in exports for Cambodia last year, around 80 percent of its exports.

Rolf Traeger, an economic affairs officer for the UNCTAD, said Tuesday the two countries had been able to continue to raise the export of textiles, while the Maldives and Nepal faced more difficulties.

Joint cooperation between countries “should not rely solely on purely trade measures, but it should be accompanied by other support measures to [developing countries] in terms of foreign direct investment, in terms of transfer of technology, in terms of finance,” he said.