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ASEAN ministers seek to fill financial gaps

120827_07

Senior economic and trade officials from the 10 ASEAN member states attended the SEOM preparatory meeting on Sunday. Photograph supplied

Younger Southeast Asian countries will look for a means of filling the financial gap between poorer mainland ASEAN members and more developed states this week during the 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting, which kicked off today.

44th ASEAN Economic Ministers meeting schedule

The 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers meeting is taking place in Siem Reap this week and will include representatives from all ASEAN countries in addition to those from the US, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Canada, India and New Zealand. The meeting began on Saturday, August 25.
The schedule for the rest of the week is as follows:

Monday, August 27 -

  • Opening Ceremony to be presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
  • 26th AFTA Council Meeting
  • 15th AIA Council Meeting
  • AEM Working Dinner

Tuesday, August 28 -

  • AEM Plenary
  • AEC Council Meeting

Wednesday, August 29 -

  • 11th AEM-MOFCOM Consultations
  • AMBDC Ministerial Meeting
  • AEC-ROK Consultations
  • 15th AEM Plus Three Consultations
  • Gala Dinner & Fashion Show

Thursday, August 30 -

  • Breakfast for all Economic Ministers, SG of ASEAN and spouses, SEOM Leaders and DSG of ASEAN
  • AEM-USTR Consultations
  • ASEAN Economic Ministers Plus ASEAN FTA Partners Consultations
  • 4th Mekong-Japan Economic Ministers Meeting
  • 1st EAS Economic Ministers
  • Meeting
  • 18th AEM-METI Consultations

Friday, August 31 -

  • 2nd AEM-Russia Consultations
  • 10th AEM-India Consultations
  • 17th AEM-CER Consultations
  • 1st AEM-Canada Consultations
  • AEM Dialogue with AFTEX
  • Media Conference

At the five-day meeting which Prime Minister Hun Sen was expected to address this morning, Cambodia will also push for a higher degree of accessibility for businesspeople traveling within the 10-member economic bloc, according to officials.

While Cambodia’s ASEAN Economic Minister Cham Prasidh said the Kingdom was well prepared to lead the meeting, insiders will watch carefully the cohesiveness of the region’s top economic policymakers after the bloc’s foreign ministers failed to issue a joint communiqué at the ASEAN Summit in July.

Cham Prasidh, who will host the meeting, expressed confidence in finding new sources of development funding for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam – ASEAN’s newest members collectively known as CLMV countries – from the region’s economic and financial powerhouses such as Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.

“We are meeting here today to raise the projects and ask [the more developed countries] for help in order to lessen the gap between us,” Cham Prasidh said yesterday during a game of golf held for the ministers.

“I do believe that the meeting will seek more donations from other country members to help the four younger member of ASEAN.”

ASEAN leaders hope to meet a 2015 deadline for integrating many aspects of the region’s trade and finance regulation, a goal some experts have called improbable.

Fear of global economic recession and its potential effects on the region’s weaker states echoed among ministers from mainland countries yesterday.

Nam Viyaketh, Laos PDR’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, said poor economic conditions outside the region would hurt countries such as Laos and Cambodia without a stronger partnership between older and newer states.

“Therefore, it requires us to enhance cooperation [with more advanced countries],” Nam Viyaketh said at the 4th CLMV Economic Ministers Meeting, which was held yesterday.

Trade liberalisation will be an overarching theme of the meeting, and commerce leaders in Cambodia said they will push for easier business access to neighbouring states.

Ngoun Meng Tech, director general of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, told reporters on the sidelines of the 10th ASEAN-Business Advisory Council that the private sector will seek approval for special travellers’ card for businesspeople from member states.

“Of course, we have a lot of proposals for the ministers, but what we are eagerly requesting from them is an agreement on issuing special travellers’ cards for businesspeople,” he said.

“This would make it easier for us to travel – no wasted time queuing. Special cards would be issued for businesspeople so they would be able to quickly get through security and that the ASEAN governments would recognise them. We hope that we will get a reply from them by November.”

To contact the reporter on this story: May Kunmakara at kunmakara.may@phnompenhpost.com

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