The private sector has drawn attention to a host of issues for customs and excise to optimise operations, control the entry of illegal or restricted goods into Cambodia, bring in more revenue to state coffers, and protect local producers.

A litany of proposals was offered at the 8th Customs-Private Sector Partnership Mechanism (CPPM) Meeting on November 30 between the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE) and the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC).

Some of the myriad themes addressed at the meeting were: the spiralling costs of international shipping, potential reductions in customs processing fees on low value consignments and overtime inspection costs, and a cutback on inspections at the facilities of companies engaged in the export economy, the GDCE said in a statement on November 30.

Other topics included: improvements to the operation of automated customs and associated e-payment systems, the efficiency of tax evasion control, entry of cargo manifests and customs declarations into the Automated System for Customs Data (Asycuda), pre-arrival customs processing, and incentives for compliant operators.

CCC vice-president Lim Heng told The Post on December 1 that the business chamber raised a number of issues, the most important of which he said concern the management of the flow of illegal and regulated goods into the Kingdom.

He noted that there are loopholes in such control mechanisms, some of which involve border checkpoints of varying dimensions and levels of capacity, coupled with a “small number of corrupt officials who continue to conspire with smugglers”, which he emphasised hinder the commercial viability of locally-made goods.

“I’ve been hearing local producers of fruits, vegetables, fish and meat bemoan that there’s no market, but the fact of the matter is that we do have one, but their imported counterparts amount to as much as $300-$500 million per year, so goods that enter illegally certainly do affect local producers and state revenues,” Heng said.

Ly Ly Food Industry Co Ltd CEO Keo Mom commended CCC’s proposals, particularly those against the creation of unfair competition for local products.

Noting that the Kingdom is a World Trade Organisation member, Mom underlined that imports must comply with Cambodian quantity requirements as well as quality and other standards, to protect producers and consumers.

“We get a lot of imports from other countries because their production costs are low, so they try their hand at promoting their products locally, whereas local production is more expensive and faces stiffer competition, so local producers are besieged by all of these challenges,” she said.

Speaking at the meeting, GDCE director-general Kun Nhem vowed that the department would pursue solution to the issues brought up, and that each team of experts would continue to review and discuss them “in a timely and effective manner”.