Director General Visits Cambodia Confers with Prime Minister; Attends ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting
September 16, 2022
WIPO Director General Daren Tang on September 16, 2022 concluded a four-day official visit to Cambodia, where he met with Prime Minister Hun Sen and other government officials and participated in a meeting of Economic Ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In talks with the Prime Minister, Mr. Tang noted Cambodia’s development successes and consistently high annual growth rate of 7.5%. He shared that he had witnessed this development personally from the time he first visited Cambodia in 1996 and in the course of many visits over the years. He pledged WIPO’s support to continue using intellectual property (IP) for growth as the country continues to grow at a rapid pace.
Mr. Tang also observed increased digitization in a range of activities, notably in how businesses in Cambodia adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Director General shared WIPO’s vision for ensuring that IP is a powerful catalyst for jobs, investments, business growth and economic development, and pledged WIPO’s support to Cambodian entrepreneurs and SMEs.
Mr. Tang also welcomed the successful and widespread use of geographical indications (GIs) to promote local artisanal products into global markets, noting that WIPO stands ready to support rural communities to combine GIs with the right marketing, branding and packaging to enter into new markets. The Prime Minister thanked WIPO for its support for the GI registration of Kampot Pepper.
Given the critical importance of the tourism industry to the Cambodian economy, the Director General and Prime Minister also explored possible cooperation on a project to support the tourism industry to build back after the pandemic.
Support to for SMEs
In meetings with other government officials, entrepreneurs and SME representatives, the Director General noted the increasingly dynamic SME ecosystem in Cambodia, and the entrepreneurial energies of young Cambodians, who are helping in the shift to a knowledge and digital based economy.
Mr. Ouk Prachea, Secretary of State of Ministry of Commerce and Permanent Deputy Chair of National Committee for Intellectual Property (NCIP) and Mr. Suon Vichea, Adviser of the Ministry of Commerce and Head of Secretariat of NCIP and Director of DIP, Ministry of Commerce took part in the meeting.
Mr. Prachea appreciated WIPO’s support for the development of GIs which have not only added value and boosted incomes but have preserved heritage and traditions – noting in particular the experience of registering Mondulkiri wild honey in the north of the country.
Mr. Tang called SMEs “engines of opportunity” and the backbone of the Cambodian economy – with an estimated 520,000 SMEs accounting for over 99 per cent of businesses, 70 per cent of employment and 60 per cent of GDP. Mr. Tang also had a fruitful discussion on the potential of IP-backed financing for supporting SME growth with Mr. Phan Phalla, the Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and Chairman of the SME Bank of Cambodia.
He noted that Cambodia was home to a young and dynamic population, with two-thirds of Cambodians under 30. In addition, it was plugged-in to the world’s largest trading bloc, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which covers 30 per cent of the world’s population and 30 per cent of its GDP.
Mr. Tang underlined the Organization’s commitment to delivering impact-driven projects with partners on the ground, including in Cambodia. He noted cooperation activities with the Ministry of Commerce, which has trained over 110 SMEs on how to brand their businesses and drive growth and support to 30 female entrepreneurs on IP capacity building and awareness, in partnership with key stakeholders such as the Cambodian Women Entrepreneurs Association.
He pledged full support to Cambodian SMEs through the deployment of WIPO’s tools in the local languages, as well as to find projects that could create impact on the ground for Cambodian entrepreneurs.
Meeting of ASEAN Economic Ministers
During his visit to Cambodia, Mr. Tang also addressed the 54th Meeting of ASEAN Economic Ministers.
ASEAN Ministers underlined the importance of IP as a key tool to catalyze the development of the digital, technological and creative economy of the region. They reiterated their commitment to work with WIPO in concrete and impactful ways.
Mr. Tang described ASEAN’s development over the past 55 years as nothing short of remarkable. As the first WIPO Director General to come from ASEAN, he expressed pride at being witness to the amazing energy and dynamism of the region. Today, the ASEAN region is one of the biggest and fastest-growing markets, on track to become the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2030.
The Director General said as ASEAN continues its journey, he was anticipating a greater push towards digital development, technological adoption, and IP-supported innovation. Over the last decade, ASEAN patent filings have increased by 70 per cent, designs by 80 per cent and trademarks by 110 per cent. At the same time, R&D expenditure has grown fivefold since 2002, with ASEAN now one of the leading destination for FDI inflows in the developing world.
He said these figures are more than just numbers. Intangible assets – including IP, data and know how – create jobs, drive business growth and attract investments. The combined brand value of the top 5,000 ASEAN companies stands at over USD $230 billion, equivalent to around 7 per cent of the region’s GDP. Meanwhile, intangible assets account for around two thirds of the value of top firms in Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam, rising to 75 per cent in Indonesia.
Mr. Tang pledged WIPO’s continued support to ASEAN countries as they pursue their development journeys.
“In addition to continuing our support for local IP systems and offices, we are ready to explore new and strategic ways of partnering together to help ASEAN SMEs leverage IP for business growth, boost the development of ASEAN’s digital economy and progress the use IP and intangible assets by ASEAN entrepreneurs to unlock debt and equity financing. WIPO looks forward to being a partner for ASEAN as entrepreneurship, digitalization, technology and innovation become engines of growth for the entire region,” he said.
Mr. Pan Sorasak, Minister of Commerce, Cambodia and AEM Chair highlighted that IP served as impetus to build innovative and dynamic community and fulfill the AEC blue print 2025. He also called for the greater participation of women, youth, IP practitioners and startups through training and capacity building programs offered by WIPO in order to build innovation-based economies.