Cambodia has reaffirmed strong commitment to diplomacy between ASEAN and Indian Ocean countries.
Ouch Borith – minister attached to the prime minister and permanent secretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation – made the pledge during the 5th Indian Ocean Conference in Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates on December 4-5.
He said the Indian Ocean is home to major strategic sea routes connecting the Middle East, Africa and East Asia with Europe and the Americas. These vital sea routes facilitate maritime trade and carry more than half of the world’s seaborne oil while hosting 23 of the world’s top 100 container ports.
“May I reiterate Cambodia’s strong commitment to the promotion of the mutual affinities between Indian Ocean Countries and ASEAN, especially as Cambodia undertakes the important role of ASEAN chair commencing January 2022, so that together we can build harmony, peace, sustainability, and prosperity for the whole region,” he said.
Borith said that as the Covid-19 crisis is expected to subside in the near future, promoting the normalisation of trade, business and investment flows in line with global change is an important and urgent task in order to restore and promote the socio-economic development of the Indian Ocean region.
He also called on the Indian Ocean countries to strengthen and expand regional and global cooperation to promote green development, in particular encouraging the private sector to increase green investments, improve investment efficiency in all relevant sectors and promote green industry development and green technology adoption.
“Promoting green development is one of the foundational pillars for supporting a long-term socio-economic development that will enhance economic efficiency and strengthen climate resiliency,” he said.
Borith also called on the countries to advance the blue economy through sustainable management and utilisation of ocean resources, pointing to a need for enhanced global and regional cooperation to harness these resources in a sustainable manner.
“The Indian Ocean Region [IOR] should ensure sustainable use of marine resources by aligning its actions with the UN core instruments,” he said.
He urged the countries to work together to leverage the 4th Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, to maximum benefit so as to create a new and resilient growth pillar, saying that the adaptation to the new normal will further advance the adoption of digital technologies for industrial development and economic industrialisation.
Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, told The Post on December 6 that Cambodia and other ASEAN member states have sought to establish good relations within the regional framework and across the larger Indo-Pacific region. Addressing common challenges requires good cooperation and a joint effort with solidarity among all countries of the region, he said.
“And so I think that Cambodia’s effort within the ASEAN framework can bring about solidarity and cooperation within the regional framework leading to a solution to major issues in our region.
“I think the main issues that we have to tackle head-on are Covid-19, global warming, geopolitical rivalry of the superpowers, and how to maintain the balance of relations, stability, peace and the environment in the region,” he said.