The Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) has requested that the government study consider offering additional tax exemptions to the agriculture sector, in order to support last year’s 2022-2030 agricultural policy.

CCC vice-president Lim Heng said that in order to reduce costs and attract more investment – both foreign and domestic – more incentives should be offered.

“Various taxes such as withholding tax, VAT and tariffs may be barriers to investment in this very important sector. It is a noticeable fact that the wealthy tend not to invest in agriculture, so we need to offer additional motivation for them to do so,” he explained.

“People are always asking why some of our agricultural products are more expensive than their imported alternatives. This is a valid point. To maintain the sustainability of the sector, we need to increase our exports. This will increase our earnings, and any substandard products that cannot be exported can be sold locally at a lower price,” he added.

Sok Yorn, vice-president of the Cambodia Safe Fish, Meat and Vegetables Association, also believed that additional tax incentives would reduce imports, especially of the edible products that Cambodia produces such as vegetables, fish, meat and fruit.

“We always worry about the quality and safety of imported products because we do not know their exact source. It is difficult to know if dangerous chemicals were used in their production. Obviously, as a member of the World Trade Organisation [WTO], it is normal to import and export goods, but what we want is firm quality controls that will protect public health” he said.

Ministry of Economy and Finance spokesman Meas Soksensan said the ministry is considering the issue, but said he needed to consult with ministry specialists before providing further details.

Addressing a banquet of the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia (YEAC) on May 26, Hun Manet, a future prime ministerial candidate for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), said that in order to support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – as well as startups – the government has introduced a number of key reforms, such as creating a conducive environment for investment and a level-playing field.

He added that in addition to improving access to finance through the provision of resources to the Agriculture and Rural Development Bank (ARDB) and fiscal incentives, the government is also focused on improving the Kingdom’s physical infrastructure.

“The creation of digital infrastructure is also seen as a priority for the development of the private sector, said Manet, who is currently deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF).

“Cambodia is a small country, so consumers need to support local products. I believe the business sector can be compared to the military one. Both of them demand common goals, strategic plans, risk management, resource allocation, and lively and decisive leadership,” he added.