Hun Manet Lays Out Future Vision for Cambodia

Prime Minister Hun Manet places diversifying the economy, promoting nationwide digitalization and nurturing a favorable investment environment at the heart of Cambodia achieving high-income status by 2050
Prime Minister Hun Manet speaks at the National Assembly, August 22, 2023. Kiripost/supplied
Prime Minister Hun Manet speaks at the National Assembly, August 22, 2023. Kiripost/supplied

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Prime Minister Hun Manet has outlined his vision to steer Cambodia into a high-income country by 2050, with a focus on diversifying the economy, creating a ripe environment for domestic and foreign trade and investment, and promoting nationwide digitalization.

At the first plenary session of the Council of Ministers, Manet introduced the ‘Pentagonal Strategy – Phase 1’ and the ‘Key Measures of the Royal Government for the Seventh Legislature of the National Assembly’ at the Peace Palace on August 24.

He said, “Cambodia’s economic base has shifted from one that relied almost entirely on traditional agriculture to one with a broad and robust economic base, which is attractive to new and high-value added industries.

“Once plagued by chronic cash shortage crises and relying almost entirely on international aid for survival, the country now enjoys full financial autonomy and ownership in determining its fate and future.”

Manet gave examples of how Cambodia is strengthening its position on the global stage. He pointed out the return of stolen Khmer relics as evidence that a cultural revival is in full swing. In addition, the nation was lauded internationally for its swift action with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw Cambodia become one of the fastest vaccinated countries in the world.

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He also highlighted Cambodia’s successful chairmanship of ASEAN in 2022, which saw it welcome global leaders for the ASEAN Summit last year. Earlier this year, the global spotlight was thrown on Cambodia when the Kingdom hosted the 32nd Southeast Asia Games and 12th ASEAN PARA Games earlier this year.

“Now, Cambodia’s nation-building process is entering a new phase in an increasingly changing, difficult and uncertain world. Cambodia will face new challenges in its endeavor to transition to a high-income country and regularly needs to adapt to changing global trends,” the Prime Minister said.

“These challenges require a strong focus on enhancing leadership and institutional capacity at all levels, as well as ensuring sound policies, practical implementation capacity, results and accountability.”

He said the next phase of socioeconomic development hinges on delivering the ‘Cambodia Vision 2050’. While the last 25 years have focused on restoring and rebuilding the country, and maintaining peace and stability in a post-conflict landscape, Manet said the focus of the next 25 years will be a “new cycle for Cambodia”.

“The country aspires to take its national pride to new heights as it did during the Angkor era, by building a nation that is strong, vital, glorious and prosperous towards a high-income country by 2050.”

To achieve this, under the Pentagonal Strategy, the Government will focus on boosting growth, job creation, equity, efficiency and maintaining sustainability. One particular focus is to enhance Cambodia’s economic diversification and competitiveness, as well as building resilience to socioeconomic and environmental changes.

Manet said this will be achieved through a raft of measures, including investing further in agriculture and agro-industry sectors, promoting industrialisation and industrial development, and enhancing the nation’s competitiveness.

The strategy’s five mottos take in ensuring crisis-resilient economic growth, creating more jobs, achieving poverty reduction, continuing to strengthen governance capacity and improving the quality of public institutions and ensuring sustainable socioeconomic development.

With regard to human capacity development, Manet laid out plans to enhance the quality of education, sports, science and technology. He highlighted the importance of pushing Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Maths (STEM) education in schools and training institutes.

Technical skills training is another area he highlighted, with Manet pledging to focus on “addressing skills mismatches between training and actual demand”. He added that the new Government will also work to strengthen governance of the private sector and businesses through a series of strategic objectives.

In addition, to bolster the nation’s business and investment environments, Manet plans to improve favorable climates for businesses, trade and investment by facilitating and simplifying procedures and digitalising public services.

Another area of focus is developing Social Economic Zones, including industrial parks, agro-industrial parks and domestic free-trade zones. He said the aim is to “enhance attractiveness for foreign and domestic direct investment, promoting production and processing for exports, and especially supporting job creation and improvement of livelihoods for rural populations”.

Recognizing the important role micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) play in Cambodia, forming the backbone of the economy, Manet pledged to promote MSMEs, start-ups, entrepreneurship and the transition of the informal economy into a formal economy. He added that he wants to see start-ups and MSMEs “grow to be innovative and resilient”.

In his speech, he requested Aun Pornmoniroth, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance, to implement the Cambodia Financial Technology Development Policy 2023-2028 to further enhance the economy.

Manet also placed emphasis on building Cambodia’s digital landscape, pledging to build a digital government and digital citizens, digital infrastructure, and a digital economy.

“I will lead and direct the implementation [of these measures] to respond to the dire needs to address challenges and reforms in key areas, as wished and desired by the Cambodian people,” Manet concluded.

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