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ASEAN gap remains stark

A shortage of financing would exacerbate the gap in development between Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) and the six more economically mature ASEAN member states, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday.

“In spite of the endless efforts and inspiration on accelerating the development of the CLVM countries, the fundamental challenge of our cooperation is financing,” the premier said during his opening remarks at a conference on CLVM countries.

He  said foreign direct investment, market integration and overseas development aid played a important role in the development process.

Despite increased infrastructure and human-resources spending, in addition to efforts in poverty reduction, the economic disparity between the four peninsular Southeast Asian countries was significant,

K Kesavapany, the director of Singapore’s  Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, said during the conference.

“The development gap between the ASEAN-6 and the CLMV countries remains noticeable,” he said.

“Bridging this development divide is  among the most pressing challenges facing the successful establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015.”

ASEAN countries hope to harmonise banking practices and commerce, among other aspects of their economies, by 2015.

A review released last year showed that 74 per cent of the targets for reaching the goal had been met.

Hun Sen urged CLMV countries to mobilise resources, while asking the private sector to improve market access to products originating within the four countries.

Promotion of the free flow of goods and services would accelerate the integration process, he said.

Peter Brimble, senior country economist at the Asian Development Bank, said Cambodia would have a better chance to address all the issues of CLMV countries because its 2012 ASEAN chairmanship would attract funding.

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