By Jayant Menon
Cambodia recently made the transition from a low income to a lower middle-income country, according to the World Bank’s rankings. This is good news, but it poses a question: Does Cambodia need to rethink its model of export-driven economic growth, as preferential access for its exports to developed countries is gradually reduced or as aid flows diminish?
Not necessarily, at least for now. But it should start preparing immediately.
Inequality is a contentious issue. It has been described in recent years as “the biggest threat to the world” and “a blemish on Asia’s growth story”, yet its importance continues to be denied by policymakers and commentators who persist in pointing to GDP figures as the universal recognisable hallmark of prudent stewardship. Supporting this position, a popular perspective among economic liberals holds it is equality of opportunity, not income, that matters. Metaphorically speaking, “a rising tide lifts all boats”, even if transient waves of fortune leave some looking up or down at others.
The 30th Asean summit ended with significant steps towards the realisation of a rules-based, people-oriented and people-centred Asean.
Philippines President and this year’s Asean chair Rodrigo Roa Duterte stated, “Asean has a compelling narrative of positive change that we can hold up to the world. Through our distinct Asean way, our region – with all its promise – stands at the centre of the future of the Asia-Pacific region.”
He added that “the peoples of Asean share universal aspirations – that their rights and welfare as a people are protected and promoted.”
Women make an important contribution to Cambodia’s economic growth. We only need to look around to see women playing a major role in key sectors like agriculture, tourism, commerce and garment manufacturing. Statistics tell the same story: Cambodian women have one of the highest rates of participation in the labour force in the region. But does growth work for women?
Experience from around the world shows that economic growth does not equally benefit women and men. In fact left to themselves markets replicate existing inequalities.
Cambodia is regarded as one of the most successful post-conflict developing countries – transforming from a war-torn country to a liberal market economy with a high degree of economic openness and high economic performance.
In 2016, Cambodia’s total export volume was $9.2 billion – accounting for 46.3 percent of GDP. Total import volume reached $12.8 billion – accounting for 64.2 percent of GDP. These figures clearly demonstrate that Cambodia’s economy is well connected to the global economy.
So maintaining an open and robust international economic system benefits Cambodia.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) calls Cambodia “Asia’s New Tiger” after two decades of high economic performance with a GDP average growth rate of above seven percent.
The United Nations’ involvement in Cambodia witnessed important changes in the second half of the 1980s. Bilateral and regional talks were stepping up. The discussion between Vietnam and Indonesia, and the first private meeting between HRH Prince Sihanouk and Prime Minister Hun Sen in late 1987 in Paris contributed to the Jakarta Informal Meeting (JIM1, JIM2 and JIM3).
The collapse of the Soviet Union made China and Vietnam – Cambodia’s communist masters – acquiesce that time is ripening to look each other in the eye and to leave behind animosities – like HRH Prince Sihanouk told Henry Kissinger: “Let bygones be bygones”.
The United Nations in Cambodia celebrates the International Youth Day on the 12th of August by recognising the central role young people play in the development of Cambodia. This year’s global theme, “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption”, calls for all decision-makers around the world including Cambodia to actively seek out and support the meaningful participation of young people in the decision-making and implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). International Youth Day in Cambodia is a day dedicated to celebrating young peoples’ views and initiatives. Celebrations take place all around the world to recognise the importance of youth efforts, collaboration and participation in development and poverty eradication.
By: Kundhavi Kadiresan
Many people reading this have, most likely, never personally experienced real chronic hunger. And, as the author, I will admit neither have I. I fondly recall my first visit to Cambodia as a tourist. It was a family holiday and we went to Siem Reap. It seems like a lifetime ago, long before I joined the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and while I do recall noticing that some people were poor, I now wonder if I had also realised that some people were undernourished. Back then, I don’t think I had.
BY SETSUKO YAMAZAKI
The world of work has been changing. To sustain progress, countries must invest in and value various forms of work through policies and national strategies that create job opportunities, ensure workers’ rights and well-being and develop targeted actions. This is the proposition in the 2015 Human Development Report, launched on December 14 in Ethiopia.
By: Axel van Trotsenburg
Before I set foot in this beautiful country, I was told the story of Siv Mao and her newborn baby.
Last year, Siv Mao, a young woman from a village in northern Cambodia gave birth to a boy after an emergency Caesarean section at a new hospital in her province’s capital.
The boy was named Rith Samnang “Lucky” for a good reason: without the doctors and modern equipment in the new 16 Makara Hospital in Preah Vihear, he wouldn’t have been able to survive.
The traditional midwife had difficulty assisting the birth at her home, and other hospitals were far away.
Disclaimer: All views expressed here belong to their respective author and do not represent the views of Enrich Institute