Cambodia has asked the Asian Development Bank (AfDB) for financial and technical assistance to strengthen the digital business landscape, as senior officials acknowledge that the Kingdom still suffers from notable gaps in the sector.
Assistance from the Metro Manila-based multilateral lender is expected to help Cambodia keep pace and comply with Cambodia’s Digital Social and Economic Policy Framework 2021-2035.
The request was made during the 10th Asia-Pacific Forum on Trade Facilitation, held from August 29 to September 1 and co-organized by the AfDB, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Singapore Ministry of Commerce. and Industry, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement on Aug. 31.
The Secretary of State of the Ministry of Commerce, Sok Sopheak, took advantage of the forum to meet with the AfDB’s Chief Economist, Albert Park, to exchange views and opinions on recent developments in trade and investments in Cambodia.
During the meeting, Sopheak asked the AfDB to consider providing financial and technical resources to address current challenges, with a particular focus on the digital business sector.
He pointed out that Cambodia faces obstacles in formulating strategic policies regarding the recovery of regional and global supply and value chains, as well as in designing ICT infrastructure development projects. communication) that support digital integration and trade facilitation.
“Trade Facilitation” is the umbrella term for the broad framework of measures to remove legal and technical barriers across border procedures to help make the international movement of imports and exports cheaper, easier, faster and more efficient and predictable, while safeguarding safety, security, health and other legitimate regulatory objectives.
Sopheak noted that the Ministry of Commerce’s Trade Training and Research Institute (TTRI) also needs a boost to build the capacity and skills of officials involved in free trade agreement negotiations. -exchange.
Ministry spokesperson Penn Sovicheat vouched for the AfDB’s willingness to support Cambodia through technical projects, especially in commercial terms, noting that the Kingdom’s latest request is also aimed at underpinning the implementation of Cambodia’s digital economy and social policy framework 2021-2035.
He said his ministry would also implement a project involving “e-commerce diplomacy infrastructure as well as e-commerce training for small and medium enterprises”.
The AfDB says it is one of Cambodia’s largest sources of official development assistance, with an average annual lending of $329.8 million from 2016 to 2021.
Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath sees the digital economy as a key issue for the Kingdom, which he says was relatively late on the bandwagon and focused only on transition during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Cambodia has only been truly active in the digital economy during the Covid-19 crisis, which has helped keep the economy afloat even though sellers and buyers cannot meet in person,” he said, adding that developed countries in particular were striving to boost digital enterprise during the fourth industrial revolution.
The AfDB reports that in 2021 it committed 319 public sector loans, grants and technical assistance totaling $4.2 billion to Cambodia, focusing on education, health, infrastructure, development rural, energy, transport, infrastructure, among other areas.