Gov’t: Local Markets Can Weather War

Government officials and economists said Wednesday that a war in Iraq would not affect Cam­bo­dia’s economy, although some ex­pressed concern that the price of petroleum may rise, while others feared tourist numbers may drop.

Chap Sotharith, an economic adviser to the Council of Ministers, said that a war in Iraq is a distant threat to Cambodia’s stability. “We are far away from them, and we have no large-scale commerce with Iraq or the US,” he said.

However, some US tourists may fear making the journey to Cambodia in a time of war. “Some Americans may be scared to travel,” he said.

The length of any conflict would be important in terms of its affect on markets worldwide, econ­omists said. “If the war goes on for two months, it will be no problem,” said Sok Hach, director of the Economy Institute. “But if it goes on for up to five months, it will be another issue.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tues­day called on shopkeepers and vendors not to raise prices in light of the upcoming conflict, especially those selling gasoline. He asked citizens to “keep quiet, even if a war between the US and Iraq begins.”

“Do what you are used to doing, keep farming, and do not worry about the war,” the premier told a crowd of villagers in Kompong Cham province.

Sok Hach said the most likely product to be affected by a war would be gasoline.

Hun Sen said he has ordered Minister of Com­merce Cham Prasidh to control gasoline prices to protect the market from any price hikes associated with a US invasion of Iraq.

Oil prices in the north of the country are still unusually high due to the closure of the Thai-Cambodian border, while elsewhere in the country, prices for fuel and consumer goods remain stable.

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