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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM urges ASEAN, EU to fight crisis together

PM urges ASEAN, EU to fight crisis together

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090529_13.jpg

Hun Sen calls for further economic integration between the two regional blocs, including an FTA, in Phnom Penh meeting.

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SOVANN PHILONG

Prime Minister Hun Sen said that ASEAN and the EU could learn from G20 in bid to fight the global economic crisis.  

CAMBODIAN Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday urged the ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in Phnom Penh to adopt G20 measures to manage the global financial crisis and to learn from developed nations' commitment to achieving recovery.

He said that ASEAN and the European Union have been cooperating closely to promote multilateral trade and investment, and deepen economic relations.

"I am of the view that it is in the best interests of both ASEAN and the EU to move forward with Free Trade Area (FTA) negotiations on a region-to-region basis," Hun Sen said.

"Given the size of the markets involved, the enormous economic potential and the volume of trade between regions, it is essential that we continue negotiating, because it will bring enormous benefits to both ASEAN and the EU."

Mutual benefits

"I feel we should not lose sight of the broader and longer-term interests of both regional bodies. We need to maximise the strategic window of opportunity that we now have," Hun Sen said.

He also said that ASEAN and the EU need to cooperate in taking on global challenges, which present both hazards and opportunities - particularly to countries in the developing world - created by the current crisis.

The danger is that some countries may resort to protectionism and other nationalistic measures, Hun Sen said, as a way of coping with the fallout of the global financial crisis.

  ASEAN and the EU can exchange their experiences of policy responses.

"ASEAN and the EU can exchange their experiences of policy responses and share best practices on how to manage the ramifications of the crisis, to learn from the G20 on how they are committed to achieving recovery," he said.

Hun Sen also confirmed that the issue of food and energy security would continue to be a challenge for some time, despite coordinated efforts to deal with the problem.

He suggested ASEAN and the EU prioritise cooperation in this area, especially devising clean and renewable energy sources, such as hydropower and solar power.

"To ensure food security, I think we should avoid encouraging others to develop bio-energy, which could have real impact on food security if more arable farmland is used for bio-energy production while the global population is increasing," Hun Sen said.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yim Sovann said, however, that Cambodia's government must not depend on either ASEAN or the EU, but must instead improve the country's economic policies, including fighting corruption and promoting good governance.

"How can ASEAN and the EU help you, if you do not help yourself first?" he asked.

Joint fundraising

Yim Sovann added that the G20 has shown great progress by raising a large budget for its member nations and that "my party has raised [the possibility of] a US$500 million package to help market farmers' products".

Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, said the government should persuade other ASEAN countries and the EU to allow Cambodian goods to enter their counties.

"I understand that some ASEAN and EU countries are richer than Cambodia. We should elevate our marketing of agricultural products," he said.

Kem Sokha added that the most important thing that the EU and ASEAN could cooperate on would be to devise a mechanism to fight corruption, as the financial crisis was created from widespread graft.

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