PHNOM PENH, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- The forthcoming 14th Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) Economic Ministers' Meeting aims to promote the post-COVID-19 economic recovery among the four least developed countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Cambodian officials and experts said.
The meeting is scheduled for Sept. 16 in northwest Cambodia's Siem Reap province, on the sidelines of the 54th ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting.
Ministry of Commerce's Undersecretary of State and spokesman Penn Sovicheat said the CLMV are the least developed countries in the 10-country ASEAN, which also comprises Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.
"The annual meeting will give a good opportunity for the CLMV economic ministers to discuss and explore ways to broaden trade and investment relations in the post-pandemic era," he told Xinhua in a recent interview.
He said the meeting would also find ways to reduce the development gap between the four poor and six rich ASEAN countries.
"We're looking into possibility to make use of new technology, science, information technology, digital business, and e-commerce to boost trade and investment ties," Sovicheat said.
The spokesman said as the CLMV are mostly agrarian countries, the ministers would also discuss agricultural cooperation, aiming at transforming the CLMV countries into a food supply hub for the region and the world.
Meanwhile, Sovicheat said China has played a crucial role in supporting the socioeconomic development of the CLMV countries through the existing mechanisms such as the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the ASEAN-China cooperation, among others.
Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Mekong Center for Strategic Studies of the Asian Vision Institute, said under the framework of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, CLMV countries and China have always been at the forefront of cooperation.
"The two sides have close high-level exchanges and gratifying results in economic and trade cooperation, and a large number of key projects have been implemented such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the East-West Economic Corridor, among others," he told Xinhua.
Mengdavid believed that the topics high on the agenda during the meeting will be focused on socio-economic development, cyber-security and cyber infrastructure, which aim to promote poverty alleviation, strengthen rural and agricultural development, water security, and human connectivity.
"These discussions will be served as policy inputs for the development and the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Club as part of the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025," he said.
Joseph Matthews, a senior professor at the BELTEI International University in Phnom Penh, said the CLMV economic ministers' meeting will play a very important role in understanding the economic and social issues at the sub-regional level.
"The CLMV is not only part of the ASEAN but is also considered the least developed countries in the bloc," he told Xinhua. "The upcoming meeting shows the CLMV's commitment to take collective actions to expedite economic recovery in the post-pandemic era."
The CLMV needs to resume all economic and tourism activities across the borders, Matthews said, adding that they also need to exchange digital know-how, improve infrastructure connectivity, develop a digital and green economy, and combat transnational crimes, among others. ■