SUNDAY, April 14, 2024

Cambodia to push for establishment of RCEP secretariat

Cambodia to push for establishment of RCEP secretariat

Analysts believe there will be a push to establish a general secretariat of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in Cambodia at the 54th Asean Economic Ministers' Meeting (AEM) this week in Siem Reap.

Several Asean Economic Ministers' Meetings are scheduled, including the Asean Ministers’ Meeting of RCEP.

The Commerce Ministry said on Friday that Cambodia was ready to work closely with all member states, partners and the Asean Secretariat to push for further efforts to rebuild the regional economic community and accelerate economic recovery.

Prime Minister Hun Sen will make the opening remarks at the two-day 54th AEM on September 14 under the theme “Asean Act: Addressing Challenges Together.”

At an August 3 meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Hun Sen called on Beijing, as a co-member of the agreement, to support the initiative of establishing an RCEP general secretariat of RCEP in Phnom Penh.

Lim Heng, vice-president of the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce, believes Cambodia should use this opportunity to push for the establishment of an RCEP office in the country as these meetings will bring representatives of leading economies and signatories of RCEP.

“This is a good opportunity as Cambodia chairs Asean [this year] and is hosting meetings. Cambodia will be able to help solve many issues related to the ongoing economic crises in the region and the world,” he said. “I also believe there will be a push for discussion about establishing a secretariat office on RCEP in Cambodia, following a request by Prime Minister Hun Sen.”

He added that in order to implement the RCEP agreement smoothly, it will be necessary to have a separate RCEP general secretariat to facilitate implementation.

“The RCEP General Secretariat will function no differently from the Asean secretary-general. Cambodia will also enjoy certain economic benefits from the RCEP general secretariat,” Heng said.

He added that RCEP was the largest free-trade agreement in the world, with a combined population of 2,270 million, an economic volume of US$26 trillion, and a total export volume of $5.2 trillion, or 30 per cent of the total volume of the world.

Hong Vannak, an economist at the Institute of International Relations of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that as chair of Asean, it is a good time for the kingdom to introduce the idea.

“Obviously, Cambodia, along with other countries in the region, is in a hurry to reorganise their economies, to recover from the hit they took from the global pandemic,” he said.

“National incomes have dropped and spending has increased dramatically. Cambodia, for example, has spent nearly $3 billion handling Covid-19, including the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines,” he added.

The Phnom Penh Post

Asia News Network