Certain goods are now allowed to be cleared through customs prior to the completion of the applicable forms, which must be submitted no later than 90 days after receiving the merchandise or registration for customs declaration, whichever occurs first.

This is according to a directive issued by the Ministry of Economy and Finance's General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCE) on June 29.

The GDCE noted that the directive comes on the heels of a June 22 prakas issued by the ministry, and expands on the rules for retroactive authorisation of customs clearance.

Eligible imports include those for ministries and other state institutions within the financial framework, or public investment projects approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia or ministry, in which case, excise taxes and other levies will be footed by the state, the GDCE said.

The fast-tracked clearance may require a deposit in cash or other means, in accordance with the provisions stipulated in the guarantee declaration, it said.

Freight Forwarders Association president Chea Chandara lauded the move and the lenient 90-day policy, stressing that importers would more quickly receive those urgently-needed goods.

He emphasised that drawn-out customs clearance procedures lead to great losses in the long run.

Chandara told The Post on July 4: "As the president of the association, I would like to congratulate the Ministry of Economy and Finance for making things convenient for customers.

"I think the ministry has put in place a lot of facilitation to improve the import of goods,” he said.

Also covered in the GDCE directive are imports of "urgent or necessary" goods for private investment projects – such as construction materials and equipment, and production inputs and hardware.

This includes merchandise where the correct customs duties, classifications of goods or origins, or other technical aspects have yet to be determined, according to the GDCE.

Also included are imports pending protested customs decisions, those temporarily detained, or any other goods authorised by the ministry, it said, adding that the 90-day window to complete the forms was limited to just 45 in these cases.

The GDCE said, however, that it may extend that to the full 90 days if the importer can provide reasonable grounds, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, and subject to the ministry’s approval.

Failure to complete customs clearance procedures within 90 days could result in administrative penalties and other measures, consistent with provisions of the Law on Customs and other legislation, and any deposited guarantee will be diverted into the national budget, the GDCE said.

Unless express permission is granted by the ministry, or competent ministries or institutions, restricted and prohibited goods are not covered by the directive, it added.