10 February 2023

Dr. SOK Advocates for RCEP Trade Secretariat Establishment in Cambodia

Credit Picture: The Phnom Penh Post

Dr. SOK Siphana, Founding Partner of SOK SIPHANA & ASSOCIATES, was invited as a guest speaker to summarize the achievements and challenges of Cambodia’s Chairmanship of ASEAN for 2022. This event was held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia on 4 February 2023. 

During the lecture, Dr. SOK made a significant proposal for the establishment of a trade secretariat in Phnom Penh for the 14 partner signatories of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). 

“If Cambodia becomes the host nation of the RCEP secretariat, it will have far-reaching benefits for the local economy. Every time a meeting is convened to discuss commerce, the signatories of the agreement will visit the Kingdom. When they visit, hotel owners will smile. While they are here, they will spend money, and we will have the opportunity to showcase to our visitors the potential of Cambodia,” he said. 

Dr. Sok also noted that many neighboring and regional countries host the permanent headquarters of intergovernmental organizations or the UN, while Cambodia currently does not.  

“Thailand, Singapore, Laos, and Vietnam are all home to several international organizations, but the Kingdom is not. Moreover, Indonesia is currently lobbying intergovernmental organizations that focus on trade and investment to relocate to Jakarta, where the ASEAN Secretariat is already located, as it already has a high-rise building available,” he added. 

The RCEP encompasses the 10 ASEAN member states and the five Asia-Pacific countries of China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. With these 15 nations accounting for roughly one-third each of the global GDP, trade, and population, a trade secretariat in Phnom Penh would be a major step forward for the country. 

Aside from Dr. SOK Siphana, the event was attended by HE Dr. Yong Pov, Secretary General of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, with around 140 relevant parties. 

Watch Dr. SOK’s full speech: