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Cambodian Goods Lagging as Asean Integration Looms

Cambodian workers transport their goods from Thailand at a Cambodia-Thai international border gate in Poipet, Cambodia, Wednesday, June 18, 2014 for their daily work near the border between Cambodia and Thailand. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
As Asean gets closer to economic integration, economists say Cambodia is lagging behind.

The regional bloc wants to integrate into a economic unit, where workers and goods can move freely within the borders of its 10 nation states.

Experts say this will be hard for Cambodia, whose laborers lack the skills of those in other countries and whose products are behind, as well.

Kem Ley, a social development researcher, says Cambodia’s goods won’t be able to compete.

“When the integration comes into force, it will allow Cambodia to export its products,” he said. “But Cambodia does not have local products to export, because its products are from investments of foreigners. So when Cambodia is part of the economic community, its local products will die.”