Cambodia, the ‘Beating Heart’ of ASEAN Economy

(From left) Kit Meng's wifr, Kith Meng, president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce and chair of the ASEAN-Business Advisory Council, Prime Minister Hun Manet during the Cambodia-ASEAN Business Summit 2024 in Phnom Penh. Photo: Prime Minister Hun Manet / Telegram

PHNOM PENH – Cambodia is ready to be the “beating heart” of the ASEAN economy, pledging to be the best partner and the best country for investment, business leader Kith Meng says.

Meng, president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce and chair of the ASEAN-Business Advisory Council, was speaking on April 2 during the Cambodia-ASEAN Business Summit 2024.

Prime Minister Hun Manet also told the summit, “Cambodia stands as a vibrant and welcoming partner within the ASEAN community.

“Our advantageous location provides seamless connectivity across the region, fostering a collaborative ecosystem focused on mutual benefit and regional well-being,” he said.

The summit was held under the theme “Unleashing ASEAN's Potential: Connectivity, Technology, and Inclusive Growth,” meaning Cambodia aims to connect and collaborate firmly with ASEAN.

“The very essence of ASEAN lies in cooperation. Our remarkable economic performance across the region is directly attributable to the dynamic participation of the private sector,” Hun Manet said.

Meng said the summit represented a key moment in unlocking economic potential between Cambodia and other ASEAN countries.

“Our vision for the Cambodia-ASEAN Business Summit 2024 is for regional collaboration and connectivity to make Cambodia the beating heart of ASEAN's economic engine,” he said.

The private sector can unlock the region's potential by fostering cross-border collaboration, promoting innovation, and embracing digitalization through technology.

He said that ASEAN is projected to become the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2030, with a combined GDP of $10 trillion.

“Cambodia is at the center of ASEAN and is ready to become the strategic link for trade and collaboration within the ASEAN bloc,” he said.

Hun Manet said Cambodia is pursuing the so-called “Plus-One Strategy” by attracting investment, particularly in medium-tech industries, to build factories in Cambodia, supplying parts or intermediate goods to factories in neighboring countries in ASEAN.

Cambodia's membership in major regional and global trade agreements, such as ASEAN, RCEP, and the WTO made it a prominent global player, he said.

However, an investment climate statement of the International Trade Administration, an agency in the United States Department of Commerce, says investors should be aware of potential challenges such as inconsistent regulatory decisions, systematic corruption and  transparency issues, and limited skilled labor.

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