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Cambodia should adopt protectionist trade policy to help local farmers.

Mr.Tynarath Houn

Welcome to Politikoffee’s Online Debate! 

This debate session is a part of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Political Empowerment Academy (KASPEA) 2021. The topic in the session is “Cambodia should adopt protectionist trade policy to help local farmers.” Each team will have three arguments to support their stances. Please note that the arguments of both team are not necessarily their opinions. Each team’s position is randomly selected to be as Pro and Con teams. 

You are encouraged to thoroughly read the debate before casting your vote for any team. You can vote only one time for one team, and it’s totally confidential! The polling will close at 12 PM Saturday. 

You can make comments on each topic in the below box!

Mr.Pro Team

Cambodia should adopt protectionist trade policy in order to help local farmers by restricting international trade to help domestic industries, and helping the domestic agriculture sector in terms of quota, tariff and other trade barriers. This essay is going to support Cambodia adopting protectionist trade policy by the following three arguments. 

1. Cambodia should choose protectionist trade policy because it can improve the income of local farmers. According to the US Embassy in Cambodia, Agriculture is 22 percent of Cambodia’s GDP with around three millions people relying on it. Only 70% of Cambodia’s vegetable and fruit demand is produced locally; the remaining are still imported mostly from Thailand and Vietnam. The agricultural sector is still in a family business stage due to the lack of support from the government to find a larger market. The relevant ministry should focus on educating local farmers on how to qualify their productions, and knowledge on expanding the agricultural business. 

2. Supporting local businesses could help to utilize national growth. It helps through cycle funds through the community which could financially help local businesses. On the other hand, despite our local economy improving, it will lead to the creation of job opportunities and the government will finally cover all of the people’s minimum needs. Job opportunities can happen through the improvement of local businesses where there can be more competition at a large chain store.

3. Promoting the exports of local products by creating an international market such as (China) by joining bilateral agreements between Cambodian Government sectors; ministries such as Ministry of farming, and Ministry of economic, and ministry environment to collect all suppliers from local farmers and sell out to trade partners at suitable prices. By implementing this the local farmers will feel safe and ensure that they have markets to export their products, thus, the cultivation of local produce will grow high, and local markets will not export more vegetables for neighboring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. 

To sum up, with the illustrated above we strongly support Cambodia to adopt protectionist trade policy which we believe would help improve Cambodia’s local farmers income and economy sector as a whole.

Mr.Con Team

As a developing nation, Cambodia is facing problems concerning economic competition with other countries, as well as the great amount of foriegn products flowing into the country. As the kingdom started the process of industrialization later than other nations,its industries face a lot of challenges, ranging from the high costs of products to low quality of products, compared to foreign rivals. This is why there is an argument stating that Cambodia should adopt protectionist policies to protect the domestic industry. However, this argument is flawed. 

1. The adoption of protectionist policy will result in a lack of competition, which is not healthy for economic activities. Implementing protectionist trade policy means letting local farmers dominate the market without having potential rivals from other countries enter Cambodia’s trade activities. The lack of competition is not healthy for the economy because competition is what drives innovation and improvement. The local farmers will not be propelled to come up with the best quality for their consumers because they can still dominate the market, after all with the protectionist trade policy.

2. Protectionist trade policy  would discourage foreign  investors from investing in the country. Due to the fact that, the foreign investor will be disadvantaged and discouraged as they would gain less profit so they ought to find a way by moving out to invest in other countries where trade policy is more convenient than in Cambodia. They will think that the kingdom is doing unfair treatment against them. As a result, it would largely impact the country's revenue and GDP, also economic development since the foreign investors play an important role in developing the country and offering a market for local farmers.

3. We understand that protectionist policies to some extent can help protect the domestic industry. However, this action first againsts international practice of free trade, and second it will only call on retaliation from other nations. Once we impose barriers on them, they will impose barriers back on us. In addition, the protectionist trade policy could encourage farmers to depend on the state which could weaken the long term economic development in the country. Once the government provides subsidies or any form of protectionism to help the local farmer, the local farmer would not be able to stand independently without the help from the state. The thing is, protectionism is just a short term policy, like it or not, the economy ought to go back to free trade. Thus, the local farmer would be then facing challenges and unable to move to the next stage of economic development. Likewise, it will affect the growth of the economy as a whole.  

In conclusion, protectionist policies should never be an option for Cambodia. If the kingdom wants to help the domestic industries, they can actually adopt other alternative policies; for example, technology sharing, building infrastructure, skill training, and even finding foreign and international markets. These policies will empower domestic industry without getting all the negative consequences.