As the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership moves forward, analysts say Cambodia should focus on other obligations in the region.
Jayant Menon, lead economist for the Asian Development Bank, told VOA Khmer from Manila that Cambodia would do better to try to meet its obligations under Asean and the World Trade Organization, rather than worry about the TPP.
Cambodia can consider the TPP at a later date, he said. The partnership agreement, which so far includes 12 countries, will likely not change things within Asean much, he said.
But the language of the agreement still needs to be hammered out, in meetings next month, “and we’ll have a better idea what exactly it looks like,” he said.
The Asean nations included in the TPP are Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Chab Sotharith, senior fellow of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said Cambodia does not need to join them. “In the future, if we can expand our productivity base better, if we can find more markets, then we can become a member of TPP, as well as others,” he said. Cambodia already has good trade deals with the EU and US, he added.
Ath Thun, president of the Coalition of Cambodian Apparel Workers' Democratic Union, said Cambodia could benefit from the TPP, but it doesn’t have that many goods to market. “We don’t produce many things besides garment products and a little rice,” he said. “So we can benefit not much as a member of the TPP.”
Mong Rithy, a powerful business leader in Cambodia, said the government and private sector are working hard to engage in local, regional and international markets. As a developing country coming from decades of war, it can be difficult, he said. “There is an ongoing effort, but it can’t be one day, one month, or one year, like other countries, not at all.”