Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Eyes on Kingdom for 13th Asem summit

Eyes on Kingdom for 13th Asem summit

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Asian Vision Institute president Chheang Vannarith discusses Cambodia’s role as the host of the 13th Asem summit later this year. Photo supplied

Eyes on Kingdom for 13th Asem summit

This year is set to be another critical period for Cambodia with more than 50 international leaders set to convene in the capital on November 16 and 17 for the 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (Asem).

The Post’s May Kunmakara spoke with Asian Vision Institute president Chheang Vannarith to discuss the agenda ahead of the Summit.

What will the summit mean for the Kingdom?

The 13th Asem summit will be held under the theme of Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth.

In regards to multilateralism, the delegation will focus on relationships with the UN and the World Trade Organisation – both of which have an important role in making the Kingdom more open and efficient.

Since we are a small country with a corresponding economy, we need multiple partners to help protect our interests and avoid any negative impact.

We must also find ways to ensure shared growth by strengthening the global and regional economy to bridge the development gap. Meanwhile, we are pushing for a Rule-Based International Order – meaning that any conflict has to be resolved under international law.

How will the strained relationship with Europe impact the Asem?

Although we are trying to resolve some issues with the EU, I do not see this impacting the upcoming summit. Cambodia’s relationship with the EU is a bilateral one, while Asem focuses on multilateralism in the best interest of all.

At the same time, it would be inappropriate to bring up our concerns with the EU during the Summit since we are to host it.

Cambodia does not plan to hijack the Summit to take on the EU. Many other Asean members have also had issues with the EU. But despite this, the Asem will proceed as planned. We are more concerned with complex and controversial issues such as North Korea, China-US relations and Russia-US relations.

What will Cambodia’s role be during the Summit in terms of addressing critical issues?

Well, all countries must come together to better understand our common concerns. This requires leaders to come together and exchange ideas to forge closer ties. Cambodia has planned for bilateral meetings with participants to iron out those issues.

Will the US-China trade dispute and economic protectionism be on the agenda?

The trade war is a common concern for Asia and Europe. We have already discussed the issue because it threatens global economic growth.

The rise of protectionist policies will impact multilateral relationships as we rely on each other for economic growth. We have raised and debated these two concerns at almost every international meeting.

The EU and Vietnam have signed off on a Free Trade Agreement. Vietnam is a communist country while Cambodia is facing the threat of potential withdrawal from the ‘Everything but Arms’ (EBA) trade scheme – what is your take on this?

The EU practices double standards because it values Vietnam higher than Cambodia due to its economic and geopolitical interests there. The Cambodian economy is smaller, while relationships with the EU and US are not as significant, which leaves us vulnerable.

The EU’s hypocritical attitude goes against its core values. The EU claims to practice “normative power”, yet it accuses us of human rights violations while simultaneously elevating Vietnam to becoming a valuable trading partner because of economic interests.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting