Phnom Penh (FN), Apr. 2 – On Friday, 31 March 2023, Angkor Social Innovation Park (ASIP) organized the second special webinar series on “The Benefits of RCEP in Developing Cambodia” via Zoom and Facebook live stream. The distinguished panelists for this webinar include Samheng Bora, secretary of state in Ministry of Commerce, Chhoun Sreynou, deputy director at the information in Research and Analysis Group, MFAIC and Vun Phanith, lecturer at Institute for International Relations and Public Policy (IISPP) and Research Fellow of the Asian Vision Institute (AVI).

"Samheng Bora briefly introduced the concept and evolution of RCEP, emphasizing three important features. First, it creates regional regulatory harmonization to facilitate the movement of goods and services which in turn will create opportunities for all members. Second, the size of the countries involved. RCEP accounts about one-third of world’s population and GDP. Third, RCEP creates streamlined cross-border investment flow," according to the press release seen by Fresh News on Sunday (Apr 2).

He said, “Just as we are part of RCEP, it makes us much more attractive for further exploitation of other FTAs and makes it easier for us to negotiate for better benefits for future FTAs.” “The more trade agreements you have, the more exposure the people will gain towards international trade,”
Samheng Bora added.

Meanwhile, Chhoun Sreynou agreed that “it is all about the economic cooperation between ASEAN and other five ASEAN external partners.” She believed that reducing tariffs, attracting foreign investors, improving market access, increasing productivity and exports, and creating job opportunities are the main benefits Cambodia can reap. On the other hand, “There are some limitations that we may know already. One is about the unequal access to the benefits of RCEP, for example, trade deficit” she added.

The webinar also discussed the practical solutions for Cambodia to optimize the benefits stemming from RCEP. In this regard, Vun Phanith said “To be a competitive player in the region instead of a big player, we should focus on developing our human resources.” “In ten years from now, Cambodia should identify the prioritized skills that could produce the quality, especially the products that can be standardized.”

Finally, the panelists agreed that RCEP would be one of the contributing factors in making Cambodia to be an upper-middle income country by 2030 as Cambodia could get access to wider regional market, attract more foreign direct investments, promote digital economy and society, and strengthen its governance and leadership capacity to further reap the benefits from RCEP.