Prime Minister Hun Manet defined the importance of “peace, political stability and security” as the prerequisites for Cambodia’s path to economic growth and development, as he addressed the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ABIS) 2023, in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 4.
His remarks on ‘ASEAN and the Pursuit of Peace and Prosperity’ covered a range of global and regional issues, and shared the many lessons that could be learned from Cambodia.
He explained how the Kingdom had transformed itself from a country marred by decades of wars to one that enjoyed peace. It was through peace that Cambodia had sustained economic growth of 7 per cent per annum before the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.
He added that it was peace that enabled Cambodia to reach lower middle-income country status in 2015.
“Cambodia, therefore, demonstrates that establishing ‘Peace, Political Stability and Security’ is a prerequisite and at the core of socio-economic and human development, without which the basic rights and freedom of the people cannot be protected, much less prosperity and development,” Manet told the assembled regional leaders.
He explained that his government will safeguard and nurture the Kingdom’s hard-won peace, while expediting national development to ensure Cambodia became a high-income country by 2050 through the recently launched overarching ‘Pentagonal Strategy’.
The strategy, he said, set out five areas of focus: Human capital development, economic diversification and competitiveness enhancement, development of the private sector and employment, resilient, sustainable and inclusive development, and the development of a digital economy and society.
Although peace, political stability and security are the prerequisites of development, Manet also discussed the essential role the private sector would play in contributing to Cambodia’s prosperity, noting that his government placed a priority on improving the business and investment climate.
He also shone a spotlight on several current global issues, ranging from the war in Ukraine, the crisis in Myanmar, and geopolitical competition among the superpowers.
He noted geo-political rivalry between the major powers was growing tense, and causing constant changes to regional and global economies and trade. It also put pressure on the peace, security and prosperity of ASEAN as a whole.
“The ongoing Ukraine War, in particular, has caused tremendous destruction to the Ukrainian people, yet far beyond the battlefields of the war, we all suffer directly and indirectly from the ripple effects of the conflict. These range from the disruptions of supply chains to the slower growth of the global economy,” he explained.
He said Cambodia has long been active in advocating for and engaging in regional and global peace and security matters, ever since former Prime Minister Hun Sen was in power.
Against this backdrop, Manet stressed his government’s commitment to the multilateral system and rule-based international order, as well as its readiness to work with ASEAN member states.
“As the new prime minister of Cambodia, I would like to assure you that Cambodia continues to be committed to the multilateral system, rule-based international order and principles of non-interference, in order to protect and promote peace both at home and around the world,” he said.
“We will work closely with all ASEAN member states – as well as the private sector – to foster inclusivity, peace, and prosperity in the region and beyond,” he added.
Jean-François Tain, minister attached to the Prime Minster, who accompanied Manet to the summit, said the prime minister had received a warm welcome from the world leaders who attended.
He explained that through various meeting with foreign leaders, as well as his speech at the ABIS, Manet had send a clear message to the world on Cambodia’s position on the international stage.
“During a difficult time globally, with the Russian war in Ukraine, and regional, with Indo-Pacific contests between the superpowers, Manet was able to make it clear that Cambodia loves peace,” he said.
He said Manet was referring to the situations in Ukraine and Myanmar when he touched on the slogan that “war cannot end war”.
Tain noted that peace and development complement each other. With no development there is no peace, and without long-lasting peace, there is no sustainable development, he said.
“Since yesterday in Jakarta, the head of the Cambodian government wanted two things. Firstly, he wants the world to adhere to a multilateral system, rule-based order and non-interference.
“Secondly, he wants ASEAN to become the fifth world economic power through regional integration, and outward-looking policies towards the economy and trade,” he concluded.