The 10 ASEAN nations should work together to build up the region as an inclusive and preferred investment destination, as the world grapples with Covid-linked issues, soaring fuel and food prices, and “extreme” geopolitical tensions, Minister of the ASEAN Investment Area (AIA) Council Sok Chenda Sophea, representing Cambodia, stressed on September 14.
Chenda Sophea, who is also secretary-general of the Council for the Development of Cambodia, the Kingdom’s highest decision-making body for large-scale investments, made the remark as he led the 25th ASEAN Investment Area (AIA) Council Meeting, on the sidelines of the 54th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting currently underway in Siem Reap province.
The council discussed progress on talks geared towards improving ASEAN’s investment climate, to transform the Southeast Asian bloc into an investment hub and production base.
“ASEAN recognises that the global economy, as well as the ASEAN region, is facing many challenges posed by the Covid-19 epidemic, the war in Ukraine, geopolitical tensions and attempts to separate the world into separate economic blocs, and climate change,” Chenda Sophea said.
“In these circumstances, ASEAN must unite more than ever and must continue to work together to address all challenges and continue to promote and attract sustainable and inclusive investment,” he added.
Similarly, Prime Minister Hun Sen has voiced support for the establishment of “green economic or investment zones” in ASEAN, a proposed new class of special eco-friendly business areas, to transform the bloc into an attractive and dynamic trade and investment hub run by cleaner and greener energy solutions.
The premier was speaking while presiding over the opening ceremony for the second day of the 2022 ASEAN Leadership and Partnership Forum, held from September 11-12 under the theme “Partnership for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN”.
Speaking to The Post on September 12, Thong Mengdavid, research fellow at the Asian Vision Institute’s Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies, commented that the “green economic or investment zones” would be a significant initiative for Cambodia and the region as the world moves towards cleaner and greener energy, and away from fossil fuel dependence.
In addition, he said, the new Law on Investment – promulgated on October 15, 2021 – would “further strengthen Cambodia’s credibility to become the new regional investment hub that could offer regional and global investors a transparent, friendly and credible business environment”.
And in its “ASEAN Investment Report 2022” presented at the AIA council meeting on September 14, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) revealed that inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) into ASEAN rose by 42 per cent in 2021 to $174 billion, which it said “underscores the resilience of the region, which has been battered by successive waves of the pandemic”.
One of the most prominent fields represented by the associated capital investment projects was manufacturing – a catalyst for post-Covid-19 recovery of the ASEAN economy.
The report also highlighted areas for each country to address in order to improve investment facilitation, including: inter-institutional interface, procedural simplification, digital infrastructure, reception of online requests, and procedures for receiving and resolving complaints.