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Taking Full Credit for Robust Economic Growth, Hun Sen Shrugs Off Western Influence

Prime Minister Hun Sen presides over Cambodia People's Party Congress in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Friday, January 19, 2018. (Courtesy: Facebook of Samdech Hun Sen, Cambodian Prime Minister)

Cambodia’s economic growth is forecast to remain stable at just short of seven percent in 2018, according to the World Bank.

Cambodia’s growing economy is a source of pride for Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has said his leadership has fostered an unprecedented development and has rejected the influence of foreign powers in steering Cambodia away from decades of conflict.

Speaking during the opening of a cement factory on Thursday in Kampot province, the former Khmer Rouge commander said the Paris Peace Agreement, which marked the official end of hostilities in Cambodia’s long-running civil war, did not make way for the current market economy. Rather, it was his foresight that allowed Cambodia to progress.

“While many countries were implementing a planned economy, I turned to drive the implementation of the market economy,” he said. “Please don’t get confused that the Paris Agreement is the agent which brought the market economy to Cambodia. Please don’t say this. It is wrong speech.”

Meas Ny, a political analyst, however, said the creation of a market economy in Cambodia was directly linked to the Paris Agreement, which stipulated that the country implement a free market.

He went on to say that that policy was later written into the Cambodian constitution.

“No matter what type of work the government has done, it is a result of the Paris conference. The concepts of the agreement have been copied and pasted into the constitution, while the government also acknowledged the relationship between the constitution and the agreement. What we worry about is that they try to change the constitution so it lost the ideals of the Paris agreement,” he said.

Without the Paris agreement, he continued, “there would be no winners and no losers in the war at that time, meaning the blood would have kept flowing.”

“If there was no Paris conference, there would be no peace. We would have continued to fight each other without end,” he added.

Cambodia’s economic growth is forecast to remain stable at just short of seven percent in 2018, according to the World Bank.

However, the Bank warned of risks from political instability that may arise during the election period next year. “Downside risks to this outlook are a slowdown in the Chinese economy and potential election-related uncertainty,” it said.