Gov’t Reluctant to Ask WTO for More Time

Minister of Commerce Cham Pra­sidh said he may not ask the World Trade Organization for an­other extension if the National As­sembly still has not ratified accession by the Sept 30 deadline, a news agency reported.

“I’m not ready to ask the WTO ag­ain to delay the deadline,” Cham Prasidh told Agence France-Presse Tuesday. “That would be shameful for Cambodia, as we already created a precedent.”

Cambodia became the first least-developed country to be ad­mit­ted to the global trade body when WTO ministers approved its entry last September. But the ongoing government deadlock has stymied ratification, and Nepal, which completed WTO negotiations after Cambodia, became the first LDC to join the WTO on April 23. Cambodia asked for an extension in January, an­ti­cipating it could not meet the initial March 31 deadline.

“I am not sure that politicians understand how serious the situation is,” Cham Prasidh told AFP.

Entry into the WTO was not a major concern of Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy Party officials contacted Wednesday.

Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou said he didn’t know wheth­er his party supported the country’s bid to join the WTO, nor whether anyone in the party dealt with WTO-related issues.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said his party does not see WTO entry as a priority. “If we are not in a position to benefit, then why hurry to be­come a member?” he asked. But, he said, he thinks the WTO will have a positive effect on the legal system and the reg­ulatory environment.

“We have spent so much mon­ey to become a member, so our party does not want to be blamed for destroying that effort,” he said.

Opposition lawmaker Ah­mad Yah­ya said the party does not yet have a clear stance. “I in­tend to vote for the WTO, but I have to listen to the party line also,” he said.


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