Cambodia is taking further steps to optimise the implementation of Economic Diplomacy Strategy (EDS) 2021-2023 to boost economic cooperation between the six Mekong countries, garner more inbound investment flows and promote local products abroad, a workshop heard on June 27.
The National Consultative Workshop on “Economic Diplomacy in the New Normal” analysed the progress made by EDS 2021-2023 – and allied initiatives – since its launch on January 18, 2021. The event was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s Economic Diplomacy Coordinating Group (EDCG), with support from the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) Special Fund (MLCSF).
At the event, Nhim Khemara, foreign ministry secretary of state and EDCG chief, highlighted some of the EDCG’s “significant achievements” in areas such as economic diplomacy capacity-building and the co-organisation of business forums with key partner countries.
One accomplishment he mentioned was the compilation and publication of “The Taste of Angkor” which was distinguished by Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2022 in two categories: “Best Asian Cuisine Book” and “Heads of State/Food”.
The EDCG also prepared informative signboards on socio-economic affairs, investment, trade and tourism; set up inter-ministerial and private sector working groups to ease the execution of economic diplomacy strategies; and developed marketing initiatives for Cambodian products, which includes showcasing them at overseas exhibitions, Khemara said.
Also present at the workshop, foreign ministry permanent secretary of state Ouch Borith said the flexible and efficient implementation of economic diplomacy has become one of the top-five priority tasks in the ministry’s reform work, and has received Prime Minister Hun Sen’s backing.
The associated strategic framework has opened the doors for actions that could bring in foreign direct investment (FDI), foster bilateral and multilateral trade, develop appreciation for Cambodian culture abroad and encourage travel to the Kingdom, and create a new generation of professional, highly-capable diplomats who actively protect and promote national interests in all areas, he said.
Sok Soken, foreign ministry secretary of state and National Secretariat of Cambodia for Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (NSC-MLC) deputy chief, told the workshop that China has played an important role in promoting the MLC, which has been instrumental in the implementation of the EDS 2021-2023.
“Economic diplomacy in the new normal will be an important tool for the Cambodian government to integrate the economy regionally and globally, by deepening and broadening bilateral and multilateral cooperation to diversify sources of growth, expand economic potential, and take full advantage of new opportunities,” he said.
Chinese ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian told the event that the MLCSF has provided ample support for economic diplomacy capacity-building for the post-Covid-19 era, which he said would provide a valuable opportunity to improve the implementation of EDS 2021-2023, as well as to discuss and work towards a faster, better economic recovery.
Year-to-date, the fruits of Sino-Cambodian economic and trade cooperation have been “outstanding”, with bilateral trade reaching $4.990 billion in the first five months of this year, up by 26.1 per cent year-on-year, he said.
“This underscores that the strong resilience and mutual complementarity in economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has become a crucial part and a vibrant source of strength behind regional economic recovery and growth,” Wang said.
At the closing of the workshop, foreign minister Prak Sokhonn called on all Cambodian diplomats to help spread the word about the new Law on Investment to more foreign investors.
The minister called on Cambodian diplomats abroad to facilitate communication among investors interested in the Kingdom as well as improvements in related advisory services.
He said the EDGC has laid the groundwork to ensure ease of doing business in the Kingdom and spur development of investment matching programmes, and called for more trade exhibitions and investment forums tailored to both local and foreign businesspeople.