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Region’s links crucial

Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh speaks at a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday, accompanied by Asian Development Bank Vice President Bindu Lohani.

Improved transportation links will assist further economic growth in the region, as Cambodia’s economy continues to improve, officials said yesterday.

Ministers from Cambodia as well as China, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar met yesterday at the 17th Greater Mekong Subregion Ministerial Conference held in Phnom Penh, highlighting areas such as infrastructure and tourism as ripe for increased cooperation.

“With primary road transport corridors mostly completed, we are now turning our attention to widen them through linked feeder and rural road networks while also recognising the need for stronger focus on railway connectivity,” a joint statement said.

Plans are underway to establish a GMS Railway Coordination Office to promote “coordination of the railway development plans of the GMS countries”, according to the statement.

Chinese experts have pegged the cost for a Phnom Penh to Vietnam rail link at US$686 million, which would bridge the largest gap for the planned Singapore to Kunming, China, railroad.

The ministers also highlighted the region’s rapid recovery from the global economic crisis, noting the “Asian region is seen as leading the world recovery from this worst recession in three quarters of a century” in the joint statement.

Cambodia’s GDP is poised to grow by about 8 percent in 2011, Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said.

While the overall Cambodian economy was improving, it still faces challenges in some areas such as human resource, he said.

“Although more people are now attending university, graduates can not always fulfil the needs of investors and an increasing number of the population are leaving the country to find work elsewhere,” he said.

The GMS ministers also pledged increased cooperation on tourism, which had been a key economic driver for the region.

“We are pleased that tourism has remained resilient despite the global economic downturn and expect it to benefit from increased growth and investment in the year ahead,” said Asian Development Bank Vice President Bindu Lohani at the press conference yesterday.

Cambodia’s tourism sector was on pace for growth of about 20 percent this year, said Cham Prasidh.



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