Cambodia has asked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to support a comprehensive study of its exit strategy from the group of the least developed countries (LDC), the Ministry of Commerce reported on December 6.
Top of the list of requests was the provision of the policy and technical assistance necessary to ensure a smooth, unimpeded and permanent graduation from the LDC status.
A Cambodian delegation led by ministry secretary of state Sok Sopheak made the request during a meeting on December 2 with Stephen Fevrier and Eloi Laourou, senior advisers to WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
Sopheak briefed the WTO on the progress made by Cambodia since its accession to the WTO in 2004, highlighted a range of future goals, and conveyed the Kingdom’s readiness to shed its LDC tag.
Ministry undersecretary of state Pen Sovicheat affirmed that the Kingdom would require technical support from the WTO in various areas to be fully ready for LDC graduation.
Without naming any countries, he told The Post on December 6 that some graduates have been pressured into once again seeking LDC membership, after succumbing to the sweeping changes wrought by the loss of the advantages associated with the status.
To prevent the Kingdom from suffering the same plight, “we need to seek guidance and some kinds of support, as a partner, from the WTO so that Cambodia’s departure from the LDC can be easily implemented, without major obstacles”, he said.
Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath, on the other hand, believes that the Kingdom would not follow in the footsteps of the ill-fated LDC returnees, underlining that its economic situation is stronger.
He offered The Post a number of reasons why Cambodia would soon be ready to leave its LDC status behind, despite being locked in the battle with the global Covid-19 crisis.
“Firstly, Cambodia knows how to use and manage foreign aid effectively. Secondly, tourism – our core sector – will come back even stronger once the Covid-19 situation improves.
“Thirdly, despite some market issues, Cambodia’s agricultural sector is resilient enough to prop up the national economy, and fourthly, the Kingdom has signed trade agreements with a number of major countries,” Sereyvath said.