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President Watanabe Pays Courtesy Visits to Cambodian Ministers

25 October 2023

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Phnom Penh, 25 October 2023: ERIA’s President, Prof Tetsuya Watanabe, paid a courtesy visit to Cambodia’s recently appointed Minister of Commerce, CHAM Nimul. The Minister was accompanied by Secretary of State Dr PICH Rithie, Under Secretary of State TITH Rithipol, and Deputy Director-General ENG Sothyvon. Prof Watanabe was accompanied by ERIA’s Director of Capacity Building Jeremy Gross and Prof Nobuhiro Aizawa of Kyushu University.

After acknolewdging the existing close cooperation and relationship between MOC and ERIA, the Minister went on to highlight upcoming priorities of the Ministry. These include sustainable and digital trade, with an emphasis on developing best practices in trade policies. The Minister emphasised the importance of policies that can be enforced and are supportive of the formal sector while also accommodating the informal sector. To achieve this, working with the private sector in a new way, based on dialogue, legal analysis, and academic research, will be essential. In addition, issues such as access to finance will continue to be important, along with further capacity building.

Regarding the involvement of the younger generation and women entrepreneurs in strengthening the digital economy, Prof Watanabe noted that ERIA’s new Centre for Digital Innovation and Sustainable Economy Centre (E-DISC) would be well-suited to support this ambition, as E-DISC provides a platform for bringing together entrepreneurs and facilitating shared learning.

The Minister also stressed the importance of food security for Cambodia, especially stabilising domestic prices and managing stocks. With experts focusing on agricultural sustainability at ERIA, Prof Watanabe noted that ERIA would be pleased to contribute to initiatives undertaken by Cambodia in this field.

Following his courtesy visit to Minister CHAM, the ERIA president made further courtesy visits to Dr Chea Serey, Governor of the National Bank of Cambodia, and later to Heng Sour, Minister of Labor and Vocational Training. Prof Watanabe introduced ERIA’s activities to both the Dr Chea and Minister Heng, reiterating ERIA’s commitment to providing evidence-based policy recommendations and studies, as well as capacity building to officials of the Royal Government of Cambodia. President Watanabe also took the courtesy visits as an opportunity to introduce E-DISC.

In 2022, ERIA worked closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia to support the delivery of priority economic deliverables (PEDs) under the ASEAN Economic Community Pillar during Cambodia’s year as Chair of ASEAN. These PEDs included: (i) the Work Programme to Support the Implementation of the Framework for Circular Economy for the ASEAN Economic Community; (ii) the Development of the ASEAN Guidelines on Sustainable Agriculture; (iii) the Launch of ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) Upgrade Negotiations; (iv) the Development of the Work Plan for the Implementation of the ASEAN Framework for Equitable Economic Development (AFEED); (v) the Framework on Sustainable Tourism Development in ASEAN in Post COVID-19 Era; and (vi) the Comprehensive Study on the Implementation of Mutual Recognition Arrangements for Tourism Professional (MRA-TP): Enhanced Mechanism for Tourism Professionals.

In addition, ERIA supported a symposium on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and carried out 14 activities under the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Pillar. In his courtesy visits, Prof Watanabe emphasised his eagerness to continue working closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia during his tenure as president of ERIA.

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