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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

U.S., Cambodian senior officials meet on trade, investment

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- The United States Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab met with Cambodian Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh on Wednesday in Cambodia to discuss ways to broaden and deepen bilateral trade and investment ties, said a press release.

Schwab and Prasidh discussed Cambodia's recent strong economic growth, its domestic reform agenda, and implementation of legal and trade reforms committed to under Cambodia's 2004 accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), said the release from the U.S. Embassy.

"Cambodia is working hard to put the right policies in place to support an open and welcoming environment for trade and investment," said Schwab in the release.

"There has been real progress on the ground. We will continue to work together to build momentum to sustain these reform efforts," Schwab said.

The two officials also reviewed Cambodia's current efforts to improve trade facilitation, protect intellectual property rights and enhance the attractiveness and competitiveness of Cambodia's investment climate, said the release.

Discussions focused on marking the progress Cambodia is making in meeting the benchmarks for implementation of WTO-consistent trade practices, as well as highlighting areas where additional work remains to be done, it said.

The two countries agreed upon a plan of action under the U.S.-Cambodia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which will add momentum for trade-related reforms within Cambodia, it said.

The two ministers also discussed their mutual interest in a successful conclusion to the WTO Doha negotiations and the instrumental role that Cambodia can play as a least developed country (LDC) in contributing to that outcome, it added.

The visit is the first to the country by a U.S. trade representative and included a bilateral meeting under the TIFA, which was signed in 2006 and is the primary bilateral dialogue between the two governments to discuss implementation of these commitments and other trade and investment related issues.

Total two-way goods trade between the U.S. and Cambodia amounted to 1.95 billion U.S. dollars in the first nine months of this year and totaled 2.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2006.

U.S. foreign direct investment in Cambodia is approximately one million U.S. dollars.

Primary U.S. exports include vehicles and machinery and the U.S. is Cambodia's largest export market. Cambodia's major exports to the U.S. are knit and woven apparel.

Cambodia joined the WTO in 2004 as a least developed country (LDC) and agreed as part of its accession to implement WTO-consistent trading rules over a five-year transition period.

Editor: Du Guodong
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Cambodia to launch campaign to stop violence against women

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Cambodian Committee for Women (Cambow) will launch a 16-day campaign against gender-based violence to raise awareness of the issue and change the Cambodian 'mindset' on violence and abuse against women, local media said on Wednesday.

As part of the campaign, Cambow, an alliance of 34 non-governmental organizations which focus on women's causes, will organize TV and radio spots highlighting true stories of violence and discrimination Cambodian women have endured, reported Cambodian-language newspaper the Sralanh Khmer.

The women's rights group will also publish and distribute books and audio CDs relating accounts of violence and how Cambodian laws discriminate against females.

It will release a report named Violence on Women: How Do Cambodian Laws Discriminate against Women on November 25, which will focus on how Cambodian laws related to domestic violence, rape, trafficking, and marriage contradict the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

"Thousands of Cambodian women suffer from violence every day. After studying in detail the laws which are meant to protect women, Cambow found that some of the articles of these laws directly and indirectly discriminate against women, which leads to further abuses," said Kek Galabru, chairwoman of Cambow.

"Now it is time for the government to reform the laws so that our obligations comply with the CEDAW, which Cambodia ratified in 1992," said Kek Galabru.

According to a Cambow briefing released on November 19, thousands of abused women are seeking assistance from the committee.

Many countries around the world hold the campaign annually from Nov. 25, the International Day against Violence against Women, to December 10, the International Human Rights Day.
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Cambodia's UN-Backed Tribunal Hears Appeal of Former Khmer Rouge Leader

A former Khmer Rouge prison chief has asked Cambodia's United Nations-backed genocide tribunal to release him on bail before he is tried for crimes against humanity.

Prosecutors argued in Wednesday's pre-trial hearing that Kaing Guek Eav - also known as "Duch" - should remain in custody because he may try to flee if released.

Duch's defense lawyers argued that the eight years he has spent in detention since his arrest were a violation of his rights.

The judges adjourned without saying when they would reach a verdict.

The 65-year-old former school teacher will be be tried for his role overseeing the infamous Khmer Rouge interrogation center, S-21, during the group's rule from 1975 to 1979.

An estimated 16,000 men, women and children were tortured at the prison before being executed at the infamous "killing fields." At most, 14 people held in the prison survived.

In July, the tribunal took Duch into its custody from a military prison where he had been held since 1999.

The tribunal has since arrested and charged four other former top leaders with war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Those charged are former head of state Khieu Samphan, former foreign minister Ieng Sary, social affairs minister Ieng Thirith, and the group's second in command Noun Chea.

Trials for their roles in the deaths of nearly two million people under Khmer Rouge rule are expected to begin next year.

The top Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998.

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ASEAN vows to create single market in the region

Special report: Premier Wen attends int'l meetings, visits Singapore

SINGAPORE, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) vowed to enhance regional resilience and create a single market in the ASEAN Charter adopted here Tuesday.

As the regional group becomes 40 years old this year, it established the mini-constitution after about three year's preparation.

The Charter says in its Article 1, which defines the purposes of ASEAN, that the group aims to maintain and enhance peace, security and stability while further strengthen peace-oriented values in the region.

ASEAN leaders promised in the Charter to create a single market and production base with effective facilitation for trade and investment in which there is free flow of goods, services and investment. They also promised to gain freer flow of capital.

The Charter says ASEAN will endeavor to alleviate poverty and narrow the development gap within ASEAN through mutual assistance and cooperation.

As to nuclear problem, ASEAN will preserve Southeast Asia as a nuclear weapon-free zone and free of all other weapons of mass destruction, the Charter says.

Founded in August 1967, ASEAN went through 40 years and has helped lift up the status of southeastern Asian countries as a whole in the international arena.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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