The Ministry of Commerce on July 20 issued a clarification concerning the determination of market prices and rules related to the import and export of goods, stressing that it does not dictate what goods circulate on the Cambodian market.

The statement comes after remarks regarding the ministry’s roles and duties relevant to the control of market prices, imports and exports, specifically the price of pork shipped in from abroad, it said without naming sources.

The ministry underlined that the Constitution requires the state to implement a free market economy, as defined and regulated by supporting laws.

Based on this fundamental principle, it said it has negotiated duty-free access to a number of countries, facilitating market mechanisms for the free import and export of production materials and other merchandise without any intervention measures not explicitly specified by law.

In general, the implementation of this free market mechanism is also stated in free trade agreements (FTA) under the framework of the World Trade Organisation and ASEAN, it said.

Of particular note, the import of pork and live hogs is subject to regulations under Sub-Decree No 17 dated February 26, 2020 and other relevant instruments, it added.

The sub-decree establishes a list of goods that are prohibited or require licensing, permits or other clearances, it said, adding that a licence from a specialised unit under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is required to import pigs.

The prerogative of the agriculture ministry as defined in the sub-decree is to balance local demand with domestic production and permission to import in any quantity, the commerce ministry added.

Mong Reththy Group Co Ltd CEO Mong Reththy on July 21 noted that there is a wealth of media reports addressing the import of pigs, but that he rarely sees wealthy people discussing raising the animals.

A strong pig industry could be a tonic for the national economy, provide jobs for rural Cambodians and reduce cash outflows, he said via Facebook.

“If the wealthy cannot afford to raise livestock or produce fodder and they still want to compete for the import of live animals, meats and fodder from overseas, then what our older generation leaves the next is the perpetuation of imports.

“Poverty alleviation in agriculture, agro-industry, agricultural cultivation and animal husbandry stagnate, failing to progress for the next generations,” he said.

Reththy has more than 13 years of experience leading M’s Pig ACMC (Cambodia) Co Ltd, a subsidiary of the Mong Reththy Group. M’s Pig is a major local pig breeder and pork producer.

The commerce ministry stressed that it has never implemented or put in place any mechanisms or measures to control the price of imported items or goods circulating on the Cambodian market, saying that prices are a function of supply and demand.

On the other hand, it signalled that it would take action if substantial evidence suggests that a particular imported item is sold below the production costs of domestic equivalents, subsidised by the export country, or entering the Kingdom in significantly large quantities.

The ministry remarked that it would methodically implement measures, such as quantitative import restrictions and tariff adjustments as permitted by law, with intent to prevent and address the negative impacts on Cambodian farmers and industries.