Cambodia should consider submitting an application for membership into the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), as participating in the annual economic forum would translate into enhanced business and trade opportunities, an expert told Khmer Times.
Sophal Ear, an associate professor of diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College in Los Angeles, told Khmer Times that the forum “ensures that goods, services, investment and people move easily across borders”, and said Cambodia should seek participation.
His remarks follow announcements that Prime Minister Hun Sen is now in Da Nang, Vietnam, leading the Cambodian delegation attending an informal meeting of APEC and Asean leaders.
Other high-ranking officers who are part of the Cambodian delegation include Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak and Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron.
Mr Ear said attending official APEC meetings would be “useful” for Cambodia.
“Being part of any grouping that includes the US can bring business opportunities,” he said.
“Members facilitate trade through faster customs procedures at borders, more favourable business climates and aligning regulations and standards across the region.”
He added that the kingdom had already applied to be a member of the forum, but said a long-standing moratorium has inhibited any new members from joining in the last two decades.
“The last members to join – Peru, Russia and Vietnam – did so in 1998. No new members have joined, or been allowed to join, since then,” Mr Ear added.
APEC is a regional economic forum established in 1989 that aims to create greater prosperity for the people of the region by promoting balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth and by accelerating regional economic integration.
An annual APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting is attended by the heads of government of all APEC members.
APEC’s 21 member countries account for 59 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, 48 percent of global trade and 53 percent of global foreign direct investment.
Members include China, Japan and the US, as well as seven Asean nations: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
David Van, the executive director of Deewee Management Consultants, agreed with Mr Ear’s comments and said APEC membership would bring more trade and investment opportunities as well as closer cooperation with member countries.
“Cambodia should apply to be member of an important club like APEC or even the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in order to get better market access privileges,” he said.
“We also need to build stronger institutional capacity to cope with the rapidly changing and complex world in trade and investment.
“There is a need for strategic thinking. Cambodia has serious potential to leapfrog if the right thinking and economic strategies are applied,” Mr Van added.