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Minister pins aid hopes on China

Minister pins aid hopes on China

THE government will turn to China to make

up for any shortfall in foreign aid as the global financial crisis

forces Western donors to rethink their assistance to developing

nations, a senior minister said Thursday.

"We expect to get US$600 million [in aid] next year as usual because

the new [top] donor nation is China," Minister of Finance Keat Chhon

said.

Aid from China last year, at $601 million, eclipsed the combined pledges from the rest of Cambodia's donors.

And

as nations struggle to keep their own economies afloat, aid budgets are

being slashed, raising alarm in many aid-dependent countries.

"They can't spend [hundreds of billions] of dollars to rescue share

markets and then forget a poor country like Cambodia," Keat Chhon said.

But Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh said if the amount of official

development aid were to plummet, it would not adversely affect the

Cambodian economy.

"We hope we will weather this difficult time.... This is a chance for

Cambodia," he said, citing the Kingdom's low-end garment exports as a

cushion against a global financial slowdown.

"Cambodia has garment factories that produce cheap products," he said,

adding that these were less likely to experience a fall-off in demand

as a result of global recession.