Friday, November 27, 2009

Bhutanese Delegation Examines Cambodia’s Trade Development Strategies

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

Trade and commercial officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs of Bhutan, the Gross National Happiness Commission and members of Bhutan’s private sector met for discussions with Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce experts, UNDP officials, and representatives from GTZ, DANIDA, and the Cambodian private sector for five days from November 17-21 in Phnom Penh in order to learn about Cambodia’s Trade Development Strategies.

Cambodia’s Trade Development Strategies and Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) strategy were presented by Pan Sorasak, Secretary of State in Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce, in conjunction with officials from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and representatives from GTZ, DANIDA, and other Cambodian private sector officials during a workshop on November 19 in Phnom Penh.

“As an experienced country, Cambodia now is pleased and honored to share its Trade Development Strategies and Trade Sector Wide Approach (Trade SWAp) experience with the visiting Bhutanese delegation, who are from the Kingdom of Bhutan, which is a least developed country in the region,” he said during an interview with The Southeast Asia Weekly on November 19. “We hope that with Cambodia’s shared trade and business strategies, Bhutanese officials will learn from Cambodia and be able to develop their trade development strategies in the future.”

Secretary of State Sorasak said that Bhutan is a Least Developed Country (LDC) in Asia. Bhutan is also a candidate for accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the future. He continued to say that recently, Bhutan has applied to the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) fund, a multi-donor initiative aimed at supporting LDCs in mainstreaming trade development into their country’s national development plans to support poverty reduction. Bhutan is now preparing to develop their DTIS.

The Government of Bhutan has turned to Cambodia to learn more about its successful EIF implementation, subsequent reforms, government commitment and ownership of Trade SWAp, he said.

“In Cambodia, the government is taking the lead in establishing and formulating the Trade SWAp, or Sector-Wide approach, as a framework to implement Cambodia’s trade strategy in partnership with development partners and the private sector,” said Sorasak.

He continued to say that Cambodia has been at the forefront among other LDCs to secure funds from the IF program. They were one of the first LDCs to produce in 2002 and update in 2007 its Trade Development Strategy DTIS and to successfully gain access to EIF Tier 1 funding, which serves to address capacity and organizational needs and to support mainstream trade development in the national development agenda.

Sonam P Wangdi, Director-General of the Department of Trade in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and also the Head of the Bhutanese Delegation, said that it was the first time he has led a Bhutanese trade and commercial delegation to Cambodia.

“I am very impressed with Cambodia’s current developments and progress. Therefore, I decided to lead my Bhutanese delegation to Cambodia as I know that Cambodia has been working successfully in formulating a Trade Development Strategy (DTIS) and Trade SWAp which provides the framework to implement Cambodia’s Trade Integration Strategy (DTIS), formulated in 2007,” he told The Southeast Asia Weekly.

Sonam continued to say that the main purpose of the visit was to learn from Cambodia’s experience in formulating a Trade Development Strategy (DTIS), the Trade SWAp in Cambodia. He added that it was also to share in Cambodia’s experience in trade mainstreaming and how its Integrated Framework (IF), EIF funds, and technical support have been instrumental in paving the way for the country’s domestic reforms.

“We hope that after this meeting we will be able to work in developing and preparing our Bhutanese DTIS and SWAp so that Bhutan will become a member country of the World Trade Organization in the near future,” he said. ///

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