Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Prak Sokhonn said at the 37th Ministerial Conference of La Francophonie on November 25 that economic exchanges between the countries in the group remain low because they lack pragmatism.
Francophonie is a loose group of nations where French language has played a significant role.
“Since the summit in Dhaka in 2014, we must acknowledge that economic exchanges between countries are still low. We must set concrete objectives to guarantee a reduction in poverty for the most vulnerable people,” Sokhonn said.
He invited Francophonie entrepreneurs and investors to meet with those responsible for economies and seek investment opportunities.
“Cambodia is a French-speaking country. Cambodia would like to invite entrepreneurs and investors to Cambodia to cooperate to invest in energy. These entrepreneurs and the investors will communicate in French with those responsible for economies in the public and private sectors,” he said.
Sokhonn said he was thrilled about a planned visit by the group’s secretary-general Louise Mushikiwabo to Cambodia and the Asia Pacific region in 2021.
He told member states that a multi-party liberal democracy needs a strong private sector. He said Cambodia has alleviated poverty from 53 per cent to 10 per cent in less than 20 years because Cambodia can guarantee peace and stability – a favourable atmosphere for businesses and workers.
Sokhonn said he strongly supports various reforms that were approved at the Francophonie meeting.
Hong Vanak, an economics researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said France was generally reluctant to invest abroad, whether in the region or Europe. He said France is not at the frontline in cooperating on economic exchange.
“Some countries had been colonised by France. These countries have not thrived very much under French investment. If we think of investments in the world or the region, French language seems to have waned in influence,” he said.