FINANCE leaders from around the globe are to converge on Siem Reap on Thursday and Friday to discuss aid, trade and the economic meltdown.
The event, co-hosted by the Ministry of Commerce, the Asian Development Bank and the World Trade Organisation, is expected to feature 100 invited participants including Pascal Lamy, the WTO director general; Haruhiko Kuroda, president of ADB; and trade ministers from all ASEAN countries.
The meeting aims to help Asia's least developed countries (LDCs) compete on international markets by evaluating the impact of the economic slowdown on export-led growth strategies, discussing new approaches to infrastructure development and strengthening regional cooperation, according to an ADB press release.
Chan Sophal, president of Cambodia Economic Association, said that wealthy countries should provide more aid aimed at promoting global trade to LDCs like Cambodia.
"With aid for trade, poor nations like Cambodia can have the opportunity to absorb that aid for trade and spur development," said Chan Sophal.
But opposition lawmaker Son Chhay says that Cambodia has gained nothing from being a member of the WTO and is sceptical that helpful ideas will come out of the meeting.
"We joined the WTO, but we gained nothing by becoming a WTO member," he said. "We are allowing other WTO members to invade our market."
He pointed to a trade imbalance with Thailand - Cambodia imports about US$2 billion in goods from its neighbour but only exports $80 million.
"Our market belongs to other countries. Farmers lose their jobs every day.... The conference's concerns are only on paper. It never works in practice with measurable results," he said.
Outcomes from the event will be presented in July at a Geneva Global Aid for Trade Review.