Excellencies, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC), I would like to welcome Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, to this Phnom Penh Gathering, – «Seizing the Global Opportunity: A Growth Strategy for Cambodia in an Era of Free Trade». I would like to thank H.E. James D. Wolfensohn, distinguished guests and government colleagues for participating in this gathering. Particularly, I would like to thank the World Bank Group together with AusAID, the European Union, UNDP, the US-ASEAN Business Council, and the Global Fairness Initiative for sponsoring this event.
The Royal Government of Cambodia attaches significant importance to the discussions and the outcome of this conference. Cambodia is facing new market opportunities and challenges, as the results of WTO accession, deepened integration in ASEAN, as well as new developments in establishing free trade areas between ASEAN and its main partners such as China, Japan, Republic of Korea and India, including the favorable component of Early Harvest Program and more importantly the impact of the phasing out of the Multi-Fiber Agreement on the garment industry in Cambodia. The Royal Government of Cambodia is well aware that in order to meet these challenges Cambodia must reform and improve the investment climate. Indeed, governance reform could provide a virtuous cycle of increased investments that improve the livelihoods of Cambodians from all walks of life.
We are starting our discussions with «The Dialogue on Fair Trade and Growth». We in Cambodia have committed ourselves to a growth path that recognizes the centrality of trade. We have pioneered corporate social responsibility as a market niche for ourselves in the region and the world. We believe that while the Royal Government is making every effort to promote institutional reform and improve public governance, business community has also to uphold their ethics and accountability. To reward those outstanding companies who have improved their governance and enforced laws and existing regulations, upheld corporate social responsibility and made their contributions to the development of Cambodia, the Royal Government has initiated the Annual National Award for Good Corporate Citizenship to be granted to a number of outstanding companies. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the World Bank Group for their strong support for the government initiative, which allowed us to be able to select good companies and award them at this moment. This represents the virtuous cycle of free and fair trade, the commercial engagement that leads to growth, which in turn creates opportunities for foreign investors and exporters.
Our experiences show that Least Developed Countries can gain tremendous benefits from trade. This philosophy requires us not only to free our borders but also to undertake the critical, yet wide-ranging reforms that in the long run will translate trade to jobs and poverty reduction.
Moreover, Cambodia can take pride in its accomplishments of pro-poor trade policy and linking trade to labor standards. However, we should take more serious strides to improve governance to secure investor confidence. Therefore, I am strongly convinced by this evening’s theme of “Fair Trade and Growth” and “Corporate Social Responsibility”.
The panel for «The Dialogue on Fair Trade and Growth» was chosen to reflect their commitment to this noble cause. It is a highly distinguished group of dignitaries with world-wide expertise.
Now I would like to introduce the four distinguished panelists who will be speaking about fair trade and growth.
First, H.E. James D. Wolfensohn, has been an outstanding leader of the World Bank. Under his leadership, the World Bank today is a more dynamic and effective development organization. H.E. Wolfensohn has made tireless efforts to promote good governance and poverty reduction, and expand the Bank’s involvement in financing primary education, basic health, HIV/AIDS programs, the environment and biodiversity, and development of physical infrastructure. During his leadership, the World Bank has played a crucial role in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Cambodia, after more than three decades of war.
Second, H.E Mr. Pascal Lamy, Former Trade Commissioner of the European Union, who have been very supportive of Cambodia’s accession to the WTO. Mr. Lamy played a key role in launching the Doha round of trade negotiations.
Third, Mr. Dan Henkle, Vice President for Global Compliance of Gap, Inc., which plays important role in promoting growth of Cambodian garment industry. In this capacity, Mr. Dan Henkle has a team of more than 90 employees worldwide responsible for the company’s social responsibility efforts towards improving working conditions in garment factories.
Fourth, Ms. Sally Paxton, Executive Director of Social Dialogue, International Labor Organization (ILO). ILO has championed an innovative approach by supporting Cambodia in monitoring the working conditions in the garment industry, thus providing tremendous boost to Cambodia’s image as a venue for investment with corporate social responsibility.
Again, I thank you for coming. I wish all of you every success in your deliberations as well as a pleasant and memorable stay in Cambodia. I hope that you will take your precious time to enjoy the sights and sounds of Angkor. I will now turn the presentation over to the Moderator to facilitate this evening’s discussion./.