Cambodia will face both challenges and opportunities when the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) combines its 10 countries into a single market for economic development, a move intended for 2015, officials said during a round-table discussion yesterday.
Sok Siphanna, an adviser to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said at the discussion organised by the Club of Cambodian Journalists that the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) will include the free flow of skilled workers in certain areas, including engineering, architecture, medicine and accounting.
In these sectors, even skilled employees with institutional recognition and years of experience within Cambodia will need to fulfill MRA assessments when they want to work in other ASEAN countries, Siphanna said.
“Skill certification can be both a challenge and an opportunity,” he said, noting that accounting schools, for example, can add courses offering instruction in the skills students will need to compete with other ASEAN workers.
“Please do not feel that your jobs will be grabbed,” he said. “We can learn from the entry of a skilled workforce, so hopefully in five years, we will have the skills to compete in the market.”
Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith stressed the need for journalists to educate the public about the AEC and suggested that Cambodia’s 23 journalist associations create one confederation in order to more coherently represent Cambodia in the ASEAN community.
Denis Schrey, representative of NGO Konrad-Adenauer-Stifting in Cambodia, which backed the conference, said that it is unlikely that ASEAN will be fully economically integrated by 2015.
“It will take at least 20 to 30 more years so I think [the 2015 deadline is] to set a time frame,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Chhay Channyda at [email protected]