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Meeting Cambodia delegation in #WEF #Davos

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wefThe World Economic Forum has started. I am very honoured to be invited by the Swiss-Asia Chamber of Commerce and the delegation of the Kingdom of Cambodia, to join a lunch with  Prime Minister Hun Sen, discussing on the cross country collaboration, writes Dr Ying Zhang, Associate Dean and Professor on Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam.

The prime minister took a team of senior ministers, including Dr. Aun Pornmoniroth, minister of economy and finance, Chanthol SUN, senior minister of public works and transports, and others including education.

Davos 1

Cambodian prime minister (left) with Ying Zhang

The impression of the Cambodia delegates is their professionalism and economic ambition to create wealth and value for their citizens. Almost all the ministers can speak fluent English, freely discuss with attendants, each one embracing highly esteemed education on politics and economics, and all of them are very open-minded and highly capable of understanding economic development models and issues of micro-level collaborations.

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Something impressed me further is their endeavour to bring their country from 200 dollars per capita to 1,200 dollars per capita within 10 years, and promising high speed growth (7.7% GDP) with economic openness. Cambodia as a member of many geo-economic clubs such as ASEAN or ASEAN-4 or ASEAN-6 and many others, presented their smart road map on an economic strategy to attract FDI to invest, contribute to the ASEAN economic community and projects to form a single market by using a collective trade repository to deposit all trade and customs-related regulations and procedures and remove barriers to trade for economic openness.

Along with the uneasiness of many countries about the most recent changes in the world's economy and political imbalance, it seems that the sphere of the developed economies are struggling on economic and political growth, and are being pushed backwards to fight for the theme of protectionism or openness, while in another sphere of the world, the emerging economies are discussing how to be more open and more energetic to grow. This might be ironic but it does reveal a fundamental weakness in designing economic growth. What do we fear all the time from other economic powers? What defines the economic strength of a country? And what's there for our citizens' well-being? When an economy has quickly moved from a low income level to high or middle incomes and faced a transition to an advanced society, what should we pay more attention to? What lessons must we learn from the different stages of economic powers?

With the merit of equal wellbeing, what growth model (not only the economic growth model) shall we scholars propose to different markets? There are many to discuss but one lesson we must learn: extraordinary economic growth, if in terms of the current economic growth index/measure and capitalism-oriented democracy, would most probably create an unequal society. If without a proper equality based social-economic structure to implement economic growth strategies, a sense of insecurity from citizens would emerge, and in the end the instrument (for example globalization and openness) of the object (such as economic growth) would become an excuse to complain of sluggish economic growth and drag back the mentality of openness and globalization, thus bringing protectionism on board in some countries.

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I believe Cambodia, under the leadership of a team of great people and as a country with Buddhism as itscentral religion and the population composition advantage (more than 50% of the population are young), will learn lessons from others and take seriously the consideration of an equality-based growth mentality and head towards the goal of achieving individual comprehensive wellbeing.

Economy

Issuance of green bonds will strengthen the international role of the euro

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Eurogroup ministers discussed the international role of the euro (15 February), following the publication of the European Commission's communication of (19 January), ‘The European economic and financial system: fostering strength and resilience’.

President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe said: “The aim is to reduce our dependence on other currencies, and to strengthen our autonomy in various situations. At the same time, increased international use of our currency also implies potential trade-offs, which we will continue to monitor. During the discussion, ministers emphasized the potential of green bond issuance to enhance the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate transition objective.”

The Eurogroup has discussed the issue several times in recent years since the December 2018 Euro Summit. Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism said that overreliance on the dollar contained risks, giving Latin America and the Asian crisis of the 90s as examples. He also referred obliquely to “more recent episodes” where the dollar’s dominance meant that EU companies could not continue to work with Iran in the face of US sanctions. Regling believes that the international monetary system is slowly moving towards a multi-polar system where three or four currencies will be important, including the dollar, euro and renminbi. 

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European Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, agreed that the euro’s role could be strengthened through the issuance of green bonds enhancing the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate objectives of the Next Generation EU funds.

Ministers agreed that broad action to support the international role of the euro, encompassing progress on amongst other things, Economic and Monetary Union, Banking Union and Capital Markets Union were needed to secure the euros international role.

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European human rights court backs Germany over Kunduz airstrike case

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An investigation by Germany into a deadly 2009 airstrike near the Afghan city of Kunduz that was ordered by a German commander complied with its right-to-life obligations, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday (16 February), writes .

The ruling by the Strasbourg-based court rejects a complaint by Afghan citizen Abdul Hanan, who lost two sons in the attack, that Germany did not fulfil its obligation to effectively investigate the incident.

In September 2009, the German commander of NATO troops in Kunduz called in a U.S. fighter jet to strike two fuel trucks near the city which NATO believed had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.

The Afghan government said at the time 99 people, including 30 civilians, were killed. Independent rights groups estimated between 60 and 70 civilians were killed.

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The death toll shocked Germans and ultimately forced its defence minister to resign over accusations of covering up the number of civilian casualties in the run-up to Germany’s 2009 election.

Germany’s federal prosecutor general had found that the commander did not incur criminal liability, mainly because he was convinced when he ordered the airstrike that no civilians were present.

For him to be liable under international law, he would have had to be found to have acted with intent to cause excessive civilian casualties.

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The European Court of Human Rights considered the effectiveness of Germany’s investigation, including whether it established a justification for lethal use of force. It did not consider the legality of the airstrike.

Of 9,600 NATO troops in Afghanistan, Germany has the second-largest contingent behind the United States.

A 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and Washington calls for foreign troops to withdraw by May 1, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal after a deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan.

Germany is preparing to extend the mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan from March 31 until the end of this year, with troop levels remaining at up to 1,300, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

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EU

Digitalization of EU justice systems: Commission launches public consultation on cross-border judicial co-operation

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On 16 February, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the modernization of EU justice systems. The EU aims to support member states in their efforts to adapt their justice systems to the digital age and improve EU cross-border judicial co-operation. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders (pictured) said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digitalization, including in the field of justice. Judges and lawyers need digital tools to be able to work together faster and more efficiently.

At the same time, citizens and businesses need online tools for an easier and more transparent access to justice at a lower cost. The Commission strives to push this process forward and support member states in their efforts, including as regards facilitating their cooperation in cross-border judicial procedures by using digital channels.” In December 2020, the Commission adopted a communication outlining the actions and initiatives intended to advance the digitalization of justice systems across the EU.

The public consultation will gather views on the digitalization of EU cross-border civil, commercial and criminal procedures. The results of the public consultation, in which a broad range of groups and individuals can participate and which is available here until 8 May 2021, will feed into an initiative on digitalisation of cross-border judicial cooperation expected at the end of this year as announced in the 2021 Commission's Work Programme.

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