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Cambodia to outgrow LDC status by 2020

Istanbul, Turkey
Cambodia could outgrow Least Developed Country status by the end of this decade, thanks to its strong textile industry and burgeoning human resources, United Nations officials have said.

At a conference last week in Istanbul, LDC Under-Secretary-General for the United Nations Cheick Sidi Diarra said those two factors, along with ASEAN’s coming economic integration in 2015, would propel the Kingdom out of its classification as a Least Developed Country.

“Between now and 2020, I think Cambodia will see development enough to get out of being an LDC,” he said.

The UN’s conference on Least Developed Countries is held every 10 years to assess and monitor the countries’ social and economic development. In the ASEAN region, Myanmar and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic are also classified as LDCs.

According to  World Bank figures, Cambodia’s economy in 2011 will grow 6.5 percent, with that number climbing to 6.8 percent in 2012. Cheick Sidi Diarra said the country’s vast human capital will be a key driver of growth.

“Cambodia’s top asset is its human resources,” he said, adding that like Burma the Kingdom’s surging economy has become one of the most active in the region.

He also predicted ASEAN’s goal of opening economic borders within the region would offer numerous benefits to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

That integration extends markets and allows for the exchange of capital and information, while also reducing product prices and trading expenses, he said.

Cheick Sidi Diarra pointed to Cambodia’s agriculture and textile sectors as another way the country would grow beyond its LDC status.

Cambodia’s goal of exporting 1 million tonnes of rice by 2015, will help, as will China’s investments in the Kingdom, he said.

Still, Cambodia faces issues that could impede its development goals, such as ongoing evictions and land grabbing.

Cheick Sidi Diarra at the conference said he didn’t want to discuss specific problems, but he did call on all countries to recognise citizens’ rights to property.

“If someone is evicted, they deserve proper compensation,” he said. “For example, if a highway is developed, and that development affects someone’s property, you have to give
them compensation.”

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