Prime Minister Hun Sen is among the speakers expected to discuss the impact of globalisation and the financial meltdown
THE global financial meltdown and Asia's increasing importance to world markets will be the focus of the fourth Asia Economic Forum that opens today in Phnom Penh and is expected to draw dozens of regional leaders.
"Asia is important to analyse because in the next century, China and India will surpass the US economy. With the pre-emptive formation of the Asean community, if it's truly realised, Asia will have three of the largest economies in the world," said Bandol Lim, international coordinator of the Asia Economic Forum (AEF), a think tank established by the University of Cambodia in 2005 that acts to promote policy discussions on sustainable development in Asia.
He said this year's conference was even more timely in light of the global market crisis that has underscored the vulnerability of regional economies to upheavals elsewhere.
The two-day conference, which in the past has attracted hundreds of participants, will be opened by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Others attending this year's conference are the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey and Ong Keng Yong, the Singaporean former secretary general of Asean.
"I have no doubt that this year's AEF will be even more productive and constructive than in past years," said Ong.
Kao Kim Hourn, AEF's secretary general, echoed the sentiment, saying: "We should expect good discussions that will stimulate dialogue and consultation on the contemporary issues facing Asia."
Rapid economic growth in Cambodia and elsewhere in Asia has made the region crucial to global discussion in sustainable development, AEF organisers say.
Cambodia, which has enjoyed double-digit economic growth in the past few years, will experience a significant slowdown this year and next, the Asian Development Bank says. While largely insulated from market turmoil, the Kingdom's property sector is expected to suffer.