Third Cambodia Economic Forum held

05 Feb 2009

Increasing Cambodia’s Competitiveness for Growth and Poverty Reduction in the Face of the Global Financial Crisis

Phnom Penh - Despite remarkable recent economic growth and steady progress towards reducing poverty, the effects of the global financial crisis are now being felt in Phnom Penh. The question of what Cambodia can do to mitigate the effects of this crisis is becoming increasingly urgent as tourism numbers taper off and garment factory orders dwindle. Key Cambodian policymakers, development partners and private sector stakeholders met today at the Third Cambodia Economic Forum (CEF), hosted by The Supreme National Economic Council (SNEC), to debate possible rapid policy responses that could prevent Cambodia’s recent gains from being eroded.

This year’s forum focused on “Increasing Cambodia’s Competitiveness for Growth and Poverty Reduction in the Face of the Global Financial Crisis” and was presided over by Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen. A range of policy perspectives and options on how to improve Cambodia’s competitiveness and sustain its rapid economic growth in the context of the worldwide economic situation were today presented to the Royal Government of Cambodia, the private sector and development partners. Discussion focused on policies to firmly regain macroeconomic stability, diversify sources of growth, increase productivity, expand market access, and enhance trade while continuing to reduce poverty.

“The Government is fully committed to systemic measures to limit the impacts of the global financial crisis on Cambodia’s financial system and its economy”, said Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen in his keynote address at the forum as he elaborated key measures taken by the government covering different aspects of macroeconomic, structural and sectoral policies.

“As Cambodia takes its place on the international stage – with its accession to the World Trade Organisation, taking a stronger role in the UN and sending peacekeepers to Sudan – it also grows more susceptible to the economic shocks affecting the rest of the world,” said UNDP Resident Representative Douglas Broderick at the event. “Integration with regional and global economies exposes Cambodia to new risks along with new opportunities.”

Four groundbreaking studies were presented by SNEC with the support of UNDP, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Cambodia: Key Aspects of Competitiveness, identifies sectors where Cambodia has the potential to gain competitive advantages. Cambodia: Sustaining Rapid Growth in a Challenging Environment identifies the main sources of growth, the key binding constraints to growth, and strategies to alleviate those constraints and to manage rapid growth. The Financial Crisis and its Impact on Cambodia’s Sustainable Economic Development and Explaining Inflation in Cambodia provide the context essential for related research and analysis aimed at addressing the impacts of the crisis on Cambodia and improving lives in the country.

“Today’s [forum] provides a useful spotlight on the current economic challenges facing Cambodia, and on ways to counter the worsening impact of the global financial crisis and ensure long-term sustainable and equitable growth that results in a better life for all Cambodians," said World Bank Country Manager Qimiao Fan.
 
"A rigorous assessment of the vulnerabilities the Cambodian economy experienced as a result of the economic shocks of 2008 can help provide a sharper focus on the priorities which need to be addressed for Cambodia's future competitiveness and sustainable growth," said Arjun Goswami, ADB Country Director.

The CEF is an annual conference organised by SNEC with support from UNDP and aims to present concrete, well-researched policy perspectives, to discuss Cambodian economic policy options with the Royal Government of Cambodia and to open dialogue with key experts and stakeholders on specific and practical recommendations for policy formulation and implementation. The CEF provides an opportunity to collect feedback and input from partners and experts, enriching the analysis and policy making process.

Today’s participants included senior government officials from both ministerial and provincial levels, diplomats, development partners, and representatives from the private sector, national and international NGOs, civil society and academia.

The first CEF, held in January 2006 and presided over by the Prime Minister, focused on an analysis of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) of the Cambodian Economy and on sharing international experiences for emerging petroleum and mining producing countries. In May 2007, the second CEF focused on Agriculture and Rural Development, specifically on pro-poor growth policies for the improvement of rural livelihoods.

Contact Information

Margaret Lamb: (855) 023 216 167, ext. 277; mobile 012 707 457; e-mail: margaret.lamb@undp.org

Aimee Brown: (855) 023 216 167 ext. 131; mobile: 012 760 513; e-mail: aimee.brown@undp.org