Dialogue politique entre l’AFD et le ministère de l’Economie (23/09/2016)
Excellency Vongsey Vissoth, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Economy and Finance,
Excellencies representatives of the Royal Government of Cambodia,
Dear colleagues from the diplomatic corps and international agencies,
Dear colleagues from AFD, Chère Françoise Chalier,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honor for me to co-chair this first policy dialogue with AFD and I thank the Ministry of economy and finance for organizing this important meeting.
I am also very pleased to welcome again Mrs Françoise Chalier, deputy director of the Asia department at AFD‘s headquarters in Paris, and Mrs Virginie Diaz, who, in her team, is in charge of Cambodia.
In March 2015, we gathered for the Annual Portfolio Review Meeting which was the annual rendez-vous for AFD and all its counterparts to discuss ongoing projects and challenges but also to identify solutions to problems that may arise in any project implementation.
But this year, the format of our meeting is different and of a more strategic nature. The Annual Portfolio Review Meeting used to look at the past and the present, whereas the Policy Dialogue Meeting will primarily focus on the future. I personally welcome this new orientation because it means continuity for France and Cambodia’s partnership.
This change is also justified by the growing importance of AFD as the main instrument of ODA and cooperation of the French government. Nowadays, half of the global French ODA is channeled through AFD. As you are all aware, in Cambodia, AFD is the leading French public entity for our assistance and cooperation. It was therefore important to set a framework where Cambodian authorities and AFD, along with other actors of our partnership (I think of the cultural and cooperation section as well as the economic section of my embassy) could dialogue, define and tailor a prospective action plan responding to the needs of Cambodia. This annual meeting will therefore provide an opportunity to outline, together, the main areas of AFD’s action in Cambodia for the next 3 years in line with the Royal government of Cambodia’s strategy and priorities.
The conclusions of this meeting will also be very helpful to elaborate the “Country Strategy Framework” for Cambodia (Cadre d’intervention pays - CIP) which expires by the end of this year. Our new strategy will be for the years 2017 to 2019 and should be clear on the areas where AFD must concentrate its financial efforts and expertise, taking into consideration its experience and its added value.
As you know, AFD has been supporting in the past agriculture and rural development, microfinance and water treatment. But the picture in Cambodia has changed a lot over the five past years. As a result, AFD had to adapt. In the last CIP, AFD added infrastructures and vocational training to its portfolio. Now, we understand that Cambodia wishes to develop and broaden its social protection system. In this regard, may I remind you that French expertise is well known as far as pension schemes or health insurance are concerned. We would be more than happy to share our long experience with you.
In addition, I would like to emphasize, as I did it last year, that AFD’s commitments in Cambodia have reached a significant level : 93M€ in 2014 and almost 73 M€ in 2015 ! And we believe that this level of commitments should continue. Indeed, French president François Hollande announced that the global commitments of AFD would reach 12 billion euros by 2020. Cambodia should also benefit from this general trend and I have no doubt that AFD’s local agency in Phnom Penh will continue to do its utmost to work as closely as possible with the Royal Government to identify the areas where additional resources might best serve the interests of the Kingdom and its people.
No need for me to recall that our partnership is rooted in history. You may be aware that we will commemorate together two significant events next month : first the 50th anniversary of General de Gaulle’s visit in 1966 and the 25th anniversary of the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements. Both events show that our two countries have been bound by a strong, long term friendship and political cooperation. But there is another anniversary that has not been mentioned yet. AFD will celebrate on December 2nd, 2016, its 75 years of existence (under different names over history). I have the pleasure to inform you that the AFD local agency in Phnom Penh will organize a special event to celebrate this anniversary and you will, of course, be invited.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This First Policy Dialogue Meeting opens a new era. It will allow us, through a constructive, participative and open dialogue, to develop a vision of what our cooperation and partnership must be to promote development projects that benefit the economy and that are socially inclusive. I can see that we have a full house today, which shows the extent of AFD’s commitment in Cambodia. I expect fruitful discussions between AFD, as a devoted development partner, and all institutional stakeholders.
I wish you, and I wish us, success in this new exercise.