The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has lauded Cambodia's efforts in preparations for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in an analysis examining barriers to realizing the AEC, AKP news agency reported.

Cambodia is preparing well for the establishment of AEC by end 2015, but needs to step up reforms to improve the transparency and reliability of its regulatory systems to encourage more investment, said ADB in a news release issued on April 23.

Addressing corruption and anti-competitive practices must also be a priority in Cambodia, as in many other countries, according to findings and recommendations in ASEAN Economic Community: A Work in Progress, produced by the ADB in collaboration with the Institute of Southeast Asia Studies (ISEAS), it added.

“Cambodia is doing well with preparations for the AEC because it has always been an open and outward-looking economy, but it needs to catch up with the implementation of ASEAN e-customs, the National Single Window, and the ASEAN Single Window border procedures,” Jayant Menon, a co-editor of the book and Lead Economist at ADB, was quoted as saying.

The book examines the main challenges facing Cambodia and other members of ASEAN in realizing the AEC, and ways in which these challenges can be overcome.

In order to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the AEC, Cambodia needs to invest more in education and health. Apart from directly reducing social and asset inequities, this will produce a workforce more able to actively participate in the growth process and adapt to structural changes that result directly from the AEC.

To lessen its reliance on garments, and to increase trade linkages with ASEAN countries, Cambodia will have to diversify its export commodity base.
Agricultural products, tourism and modern services all represent areas of opportunity that the AEC presents.

ASEAN members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.-VNA