Australia Supports Cambodia through Mekong-Australia Partnership
Yesterday, Australia’s Ambassador to Cambodia, Pablo Kang briefed Aun Pornmoniroth, Minister of Economy on various new Australian programmes commencing in Cambodia under the Mekong-Australia Partnership (MAP).
The MAP is a AUD $232 million package ($168 million) over four years to assist the Mekong sub region’s recovery from Covid-19 and to build the region’s ongoing economic and environmental resilience.
Through the MAP, Australia has already initiated a range of new activities including on renewable energy, water, consumer protection, scholarships, cyber security and strengthening investment. A first tranche of AUD $5.5 million ($4 million) for Cambodia was fast tracked and disbursed in June 2021 with the next set of contributions being prepared for the 2021-22 financial year. All additional funding is on top of the existing aid programme of approximately AUD $66 million ($48 million).
Under MAP, Australia will also provide resources to support the modernisation of the Cambodian agriculture sector and development of an agro-processing industry – key elements of Cambodia’s economic recovery strategy.
During the meeting, Ambassador Kang and Pornmoniroth witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Cambodia-Australia Agricultural Value Chain (CAVAC) programme and the Supreme National Economic Council (SNEC) on support in establishing Agri-food Industrial Parks (AIPs).
“The major disruption caused by Covid-19 means that Cambodia needs to find new sources of sustainable and inclusive growth,” said Ambassador Kang. “Through the Mekong-Australia Partnership, we are pleased to support efforts to kick-start the nascent agro-processing sector, which has real potential to drive Cambodia’s economic recovery.”
Under the MOU, CAVAC will provide technical and financial assistance to help SNEC develop and implement an economically viable model for AIPs. An AIP is an agro-processing focused industrial precinct with shared utilities, a ‘single-window’ approach to regulatory compliance and features such as shared research and development and testing facilities. It creates efficiency and scale to help Cambodia compete with neighbouring agri-food powerhouses.
CAVAC’s assistance will include a full feasibility study and site-specific business case, including assessing benefits for farmers in surrounding areas and recommendations for the best enabling regulatory framework. This is supplemented by support to the Cambodian government to prepare and conduct international campaigns to attract agri-food sector investment.
Pornmoniroth said, “The priorities for the government of Cambodia will be to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, and capacity building to survive with Covid-19 in the medium and long term.”
“At this moment, the Government of Cambodia is preparing the post Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan based on three key principles for Recovery, Reform and Resilience (3Rs) to underscore priority sectors, particularly those significantly affected by Covid-19,” said Pornmoniroth.
Pornmoniroth also said that the financial and technical supports from the Australian Government form a major contribution in achieving government policy priorities in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and will complement the government’s efforts for economic recovery.