Malaysian Economist Says Job Skills Training Needed

Cambodia should put more emphasis on human re­sour­c­es development because the Asean Free Trade Agree­ment will soon create a need in Cambodia for more skilled workers, a visiting economist said Friday.

Rajah Rasiah, dean of the Faculty of Economics and Bus­iness at the University of Malay­sia Sarawak, said gradually more jobs will open up in non-agricultural areas that require training.

“It is important for Cambodia to develop dynamic industrial policy and to shift investments to human resource development and innovative activities,” Rasiah said at a workshop organized by the Cambodian Institute for Coop­eration and Peace at Gov­ern­ment Palace.

Rasiah said entering AFTA—which will encourage business among the 10-members of Asean by reducing tariffs and other trade barriers—would lead to more industrial jobs here.

Cambodia started reducing tariffs on Jan 1 in accordance with the AFTA entrance. The newest Asean entrant is required to gradually cut tariffs on imported goods from other Asean countries to zero by 2015. This year nearly 500 items including dairy products, cloth and jewelry see changes in tariffs from 35 or 50 percent to 20 to 25 percent.

Rasiah conducted research late last year on how trading deregulation will affect Cambodia’s labor market. He also wanted to gain insight into what industrial policies the government should establish, he said.

The AFTA entrance would likely to expand Cambodia’s growing labor-intensive, export-oriented light industries such as garment manfacturing, and the making of rubber and wood products, he said.

Seventy-eight percent of working Cambodians labor in agricultural fields, and with the re­sources of the Tonle Sap lake region, Cambodia should be able to export many goods profitably in coming years, he said.

To take full advantage of  AFTA benefits, he urged the expansion of education and skills training to improve productivity.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Doyle)




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