Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - SPS rules still hold back agri exports

SPS rules still hold back agri exports

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Cambodia exported 130,248 tonnes of milled rice in July-September valued at more than $81 million, representing a 42.95-per-cent rise in volume from the 91,115 tonnes posted in the same period last year, the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) reported earlier this month. Heng Chivoan

SPS rules still hold back agri exports

Although the Cambodia-China Free Trade Agreement (CCFTA) has been signed and is set to liberalise the agricultural market and clear significant barriers on certain tariff lines, trading appreciably more agricultural wares will not be possible without first tackling some of the remaining non-tariff barriers, especially those concerning sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules, according to the agriculture minister.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Veng Sakhon on October 18 explained that the CCFTA would provide duty free access to the Chinese market for a wide range of Cambodian agricultural commodities.

However, he said, agricultural exports must meet SPS and food safety standards outlined by Chinese laws and regulations. Similarly, imports must conform to the Kingdom’s legal SPS rules.

He explained that the World Trade Organisation (WTO) SPS Agreement reaffirms the rights of Cambodia and China, as member states of the UN agency, to adopt the SPS and food safety standards deemed necessary for imports, and enforce them to prevent potential risks to the health and lives of the people, animals and plants in their territories.

Cambodia last year exported 17 types of agricultural products to China, amounting to more than 736,000 tonnes, the minister said, adding that these sales were possible due to respective protocols signed between the two countries.

He listed notable exports as fresh bananas, fresh and dried mangoes, milled rice, cassava chips, tapioca starch, rubber, cashew nuts and coconut oil.

To take full advantage of the opportunities created by the free trade agreement (FTA), Sakhon asked farmers, processors and other private sector stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to work with the government to secure investment in the necessary infrastructure for processing, packaging and exporting that is compliant with the quality, safety and SPS standards of China.

With a reported population of more than 1.4 billion, the Chinese market has the highest demand potential for Cambodian agricultural produce, the minister emphasised.

“Therefore, Cambodia must strengthen [and maintain] its competitive edge in the Chinese market by ramping up its quality, safety and SPS standards to reap the maximum benefits from the FTA framework … and expand export markets to other destinations,” Sakhon said.

Asian Vision Institute (AVI) economic analyst Chheng Kimlong told The Post on October 19 that even with the CCFTA in effect, Cambodian businesses cannot begin shipping agricultural goods directly to China before a series of field inspections are conducted, in accordance with common standards and special agreements, particularly those concerning SPS.

Kimlong noted that the agriculture, commerce and other relevant ministries over the years have successfully negotiated better terms on quality, SPS and other standards for various commodities with the Chinese side, which significantly differ between items.

“We have to deal with it on a case-by-case basis. Milled rice, corn, Faboideae legumes and bananas, for example are generally in line with Chinese standards, which differ from the EU’s,” he said.

He argued that all-round participation from both governments and countries, deeper trade ties among their private sectors, and increased Chinese investment in the Kingdom would be required to pump up Cambodian agricultural exports to China.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath pointed out that while the CCFTA would allow for the export of larger quantities of local agricultural products to China, supplementary agreements related to SPS standards remain imperative.

However, he stressed, the use of harmful fertilisers and unsanctioned techniques in the supply chain persist as hindrances to efforts to export Cambodian agricultural merchandise to China.

MOST VIEWED

  • No payment required for travellers taking rapid Covid tests on arrival

    Ministry of Health officials said there would be no payment required for the rapid Covid-19 tests given to travellers who arrive in Cambodia from November 15 onwards after the quarantine requirement is lifted for fully vaccinated people. Health ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told The Post on

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • Police arrest Canadian with 167kg of drugs

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on November 15 placed a Canadian national in pre-trial detention in connection with smuggling and possessing 167kg of illegal drugs. Deputy National Police chief in charge of anti-drug enforcement Mak Chito told The Post on November 15 that the man was arrested

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to