Cambodia to Host the ASEM Summit

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker (R) and European Council President Donald Tusk (L) welcome Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen(C) to the Asia-Europe Meeting summit at the European Council in Brussels on October 18, 2018 (AFP)
  • Jazmyn Himel
  • October 20, 2019 2:31 AM

PHNOM PENH--Cambodia will be hosting the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) next year. 

This will be the first time that the country holds ASEM, which is described as an "intergovernmental process” meant to encourage Asian-European relations and cooperation on economic, political, social, cultural and educational matters. 

Last September, the Asian Vision Institute and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung foundation (KAS) released a book entitled “Cambodia’s ASEM Chairmanship 2020: Small Country with Big Tasks.”  In the book, Sok Siphana, who serves as Cambodia’s senior official for the 2020 ASEM Summit , speaks of the country’s vision for the event.  

One major goal will be to have participating countries draw up and sign a “Phnom Penh Declaration” that would outline a “compelling vision of a thriving well-connected Asia-Europe Marketplace,” Siphana said.

Even in Cambodia, this goal of increased business dealings with Europe will mean giving more importance to the “connectivity dimension,” Siphana said. And such connectivity is an essential catalyst for economic growth if the country is to bring about Prime Minister Hun Sen’s vision of Cambodia becoming a “middle-income country by 2030,” he said. 

Daniel Schmuecking, KAS representative in Cambodia, said that improved Asian-European connections will catalyze economic growth. “If Cambodia is connected better within Asean and Asia and with Europe, the economy of Cambodia will further grow. 

“This can be done in the form of better transport links: by air, land or sea; by improved digital infrastructure, mobile or fixed, from cables to satellites, from the internet backbone to the last mile; by better connected energy networks and flows from gas to electricity grids, from renewables to energy efficiency,” he said. “And of course, free trade will help Cambodia in the long-term perspective.”

The ASEM Summit will be a significant event for modern Cambodia and, Schmuecking said, “a big chance for Cambodia to present itself to the world.”  As host of the event, the country should, he said “focus on what is in the interest of small countries: a rule-based world order.” 

The theme of the upcoming summit will be announced on Dec. 14 during the ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Spain, Sok Siphana said. It will no doubt address, he said, “issues that bind rather than those that divide” Asia and Europe.

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