Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak on Wednesday said the Cambodian government has focused on its competitiveness strategies and the growth of Industry 4.0 in the Kingdom to withstand the trends of global protectionism and geopolitical polarisation.
Speaking at a workshop on “Cambodian Trade Integration Strategy (CTIS) 2019-2023”, Sorasak said the emergence of protectionist movements and geopolitical polarisation created both new threats and opportunities for small economies like Cambodia.
“Cambodia’s trade policy must be flexible according to time and context in order for it to develop and seize the best opportunities, along with efforts to open up to new markets,” he said.
According to Sorasak, the ministry is trying to increase cooperation with all countries around the world by signing agreements and treaties to bring Cambodian produce to more markets.
He added that strengthening the education sector and professional skills, as well as boosting trade facilitation, business logistics, the business environment, trade finance and infrastructure, are key strategies to improving the Kingdom’s competitiveness.
“In order to achieve the CTIS 2019-2023, Cambodia must be well prepared, self-reliant, independent, building physical infrastructure and teaching people, especially young people, to have useful knowledge that could be beneficial in the digital economy,” he said.
CTIS is the government’s main strategy document that identifies and sets policy recommendations for trade sector development in Cambodia.
The strategy was first introduced in 2001 and has been updated three times since.
Tek Rethkomrong, secretary of state at the ministry, said CTIS is vital to the Kingdom’s adaptiveness to changes in the global economic context.
The National Bank of Cambodia’s first quarter report this year showed that the Kingdom’s foreign trade has progressed with exports in the period totalling $6.8 billion, of which the US market share was 28 per cent, Europe 26.6 per cent, Japan 7.7 per cent and the UK 6.6 per cent.
Imports in the period totalled $10.5 billion, with imports from China making up 46 per cent, Thailand 15.6 per cent, Vietnam 13.2 per cent and Japan 4.5 per cent.
Lim Heng, Vice president of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, said that internal economic reforms are essential for Cambodia to become a developed country with notable international market share.
“To have a strategy to compete is the right thing to do, because currently our market is no longer just limited to Asean or the Asia region as it was before.”
Heng added that in this current phase of fluctuation and fierce competition, Cambodia had to build its capacity.
“In order to strengthen competitiveness, a number of factors need to be reformed such as [Cambodia’s] human resources and high cost of production, electricity and high transportation costs,” he said.