CAMBODIA has the second-strongest case for inclusion in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), behind only India, according to an informal poll of business leaders from member countries in Singapore on Saturday.
The South Asian economic powerhouse was rated as having the strongest case for inclusion of the dozen nations that are understood to have expressed an interest in joining APEC when a moratorium on new members expires next year.
“Cambodia should be a member; it deserves to be,” said Dr Donald Gordon, executive director of The Riley Institute in the United States.
Six other countries are also viewed as having a strong case – Laos, Myanmar, Macau, Mongolia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Corporate heads from APEC’s current 21 member economies were asked to rate these aspirants according to which they felt had the best credentials.
India was widely expected to poll the top spot, as its huge and rapidly growing economy is viewed by most businessmen in the region as being essential to the further development of APEC.
Some business leaders felt that voters might turn away from Cambodia due to the ongoing dispute with Thailand over the appointment of former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra as an economic adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Voters said Cambodia had a strong instrinsic right to be a member of APEC since it has a coastline open to the Pacific, it is already a member of the WTO and ASEAN, and, most importantly, it has an open trade policy of the kind that appeals to APEC members.