22 January 2021

Cambodian FM calls RCEP key driver for regional economic recovery, integration

PHNOM PENH, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) — Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn said on Thursday that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement will be a key driver for regional economic recovery and integration when it enters into force.

He made the remarks during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat, which was held via videoconference, the foreign ministry said in a press statement released after the meeting.

“On the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister expressed his confidence in RCEP as a key driver of regional economic recovery and integration, and encouraged all RCEP participating countries to expedite ratification process,” the statement said.

Initiated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2012, RCEP is a mega free trade deal between its 10 member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) and its FTA partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The 15 Asia-Pacific countries signed the pact on Nov. 15, 2020, forging the world’s largest-ever free trade bloc.

Sok Siphana, an advisor to the Cambodian government, said last week that RCEP is a victory of multilateralism and is a good pool for regional economic cooperation and integration.

“The biggest political message the RCEP carries is that multilateralism is once again at the forefront and with RCEP’s leading, we can rely on a stronger multilateralism to support economic growth,” he said during a free style dialogue on RCEP and its impact on Cambodia.

Siphana said RCEP, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), among others will be complementary to each other to boost regional and global economies.

He said Cambodia would greatly benefit from the deal; however, the kingdom needed to increase its production capacity in agriculture and light industries and invested more in energy, transport infrastructure and logistics.

“To me, RCEP is probably the best end and the biggest trade initiative for Cambodia in a long run,” he said.