PM calls for digital economy co-op among emerging states

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Prime Minister Hun Send speaks from his office recently. SPM

Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the leaders of emerging economies to increase cooperation in developing the digital economy, saying it is warranted to meet their development needs.

Hun Sen made the remarks at the High-level Dialogue of BRICS-Plus Leaders on Global Development, themed “Fostering a Global Development Partnership for the New Era to Jointly Implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, held virtually on June 24 in Beijing.

“We should pay close attention to increasing cooperation in accelerating the digital transformation. It is a new source of growth, and will help the least developed countries to meet their needs for the digital economy development,” he said.

The premier also urged enhancing green economic development, which he regarded as an indispensable part of supporting sustainable socio-economic development by supporting the expansion of cooperation in building green infrastructure and pushing energy transition, as well as the use of green technology.

Addressing leaders of the five BRICS states – the five major emerging economies including China, Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa – and other developing countries, Hun Sen said the Covid-19 crisis has hindered the progress of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in developing nations.

He called for cooperation in establishing a multilateral trading system – and reductions in trade barriers – for a successful post-pandemic economic recovery.

“We must adhere to the spirit of openness and support for a multilateral trading system. We must especially promote openness in international trade and reduce trade barriers, especially strategic commodities such as food, medicine and energy, in order to foster sustainable economic growth and enhance the resilience of regional and global value chains,” he said.

The region and the world are confronted with increasingly acute, complicated and unpredictable challenges to development, stemming from stressors such as geopolitical competition; military, trade and technological wars; climate change; and monetary policy tightening.

He stressed that these factors have caused changes in the global economic architecture and disrupted globalisation, which has led to a significant decline in global value chains and global productivity.

Hun Sen added that in an environment where Covid-19 has been relieved and the efforts to recover the global economy are the priority of BRICS, the emerging economies will play a progressively more important role in strengthening global economic activity and accelerating the achievement of sustainable development goals.

“BRICS Plus is a significant opportunity to strengthen cooperation with other countries in starting forums for enhancing practical cooperation in key priority sectors to create employment opportunities, and reduce poverty as well as to ensure food and energy security to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he said.

Hun Sen confirmed Cambodia’s commitment as ASEAN chair in 2022, to play an active role in further strengthening ASEAN cooperation in order to promote the post-Covid-19 economic recovery in an inclusive, sustainable and resilient manner towards achieving the 2030 agenda.

Yong Kim Eng, president of the NGO People’s Centre for Development and Peace, said the digital economy is very important and that Hun Sen’s calls to increase cooperation in its development were justified, and in line with the context of the current digital economy.

However, the BRICS are unlikely to deliver significant benefits, because they were only formed to challenge G7 – the world’s most advanced economies.

“All of the [BRICS] member nations are huge countries and have potential to be extremely lucrative markets for any goods we have to sell,” he said.

“The BRICS are still cautious of each other. Relations between them are not entirely smooth, and there are several serious border disputes underway, particularly between China and India.

“It is not possible for the BRICS to harmonise and to promote economic development as strongly as the G7 industrialised nations, who are led by the US,” he added.