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Private sector airs cross-border trade woes

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Workers drive through the Poipet-Aranyaprathet border crossing. POST PIX/FILE

Private sector airs cross-border trade woes

A technical working group – set up to gather and provide input and guidance on the customs and industrial concerns blighting the private-sector non-garment export landscape – has raised a series of issues for the government to resolve, pertaining to restrictions on goods traded via international land borders instituted domestically and abroad as preventive measures against Covid-19.

This comes after the Second Technical Group on Customs-Industry Affairs in Non-Garment Exports of the Private Sector met via Zoom on the afternoon of July 23 to compile a representative list of challenges, concerns and common requests from the private sector to forward to the General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) and other relevant government institutions.

The meeting was led by working group co-chair Tan Monivann and attended by Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) director-general Nguon Meng Tech and other CCC members, representatives of the Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA), the Cambodia Rice Federation, enterprises, exporters and other technical working groups.

CCC vice-president Lim Heng told The Post that the meeting aimed to resolve questions of coordination with the GDCE in areas related to imports and exports that have arisen from the tightening of border control policies with Vietnam and Thailand, in a bid to curb Covid-19 infections.

“In the past, we have addressed many issues, such as facilitating the export, import and storage of goods at airports and other ports managed by the GDCE,” he said.

CLA president Sin Chanthy told The Post that the meeting touched on the blockade of dried cassava exports to Thailand.

“We want to move the cassava to be shipped through the Sihanoukville port, but after analysing expenditures in transport – it’ll cost a lot of money. So we want the GDCE to apportion a part of the port as a dedicated location for agricultural products, to facilitate their export,” he said.

He noted that the working group also sought for better-planned, efficient cargo handling solutions for milled rice containers at the port, and reduce the number of unnecessary lift-on lift-off (LoLo) crane movements.

Heng said the working group would continue to explore solutions with its peers, adding that the CCC would submit a letter outlining the unresolved issues to the 13 co-chairs of the Customs-Private Sector Partnership Mechanism (CPPM).

According to the GDCE, the CPPM “is responsible for coordinating cooperation and mutual understandings between the Customs Administration and private sector, as well as for resolving all customs related matters at the greatest possible extend before moving to other dispute settlement bodies, or to the Government-Private Sector Forum” (GPSF).

Heng added that issues unsettled by the CPPM would be referred to the GPSF to be decided by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Cambodia exported $1.8997 billion worth of non-textile-based industrial products in the first half of this year, an increase of 49.9 per cent from $1.2672 billion in the same period of 2020, the GDCE reported, listing some of the items as bicycles and related parts, electronic and wiring components, auto parts, decorative lamps and plank boards.

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