Cambodia and other ASEAN member states are committed to improve transport in the region as Covid-19 has severely impacted the sector.

The joint commitment was made during the 40th ASEAN Transport Facilitation meeting via video conference hosted by Cambodia from March 23-24.

Kong Sophal, deputy head of the General Department of Land Transport who chaired the meeting, told The Post on March 25 that the meeting focused on four ASEAN Framework Agreements related to regional transport restoration.

“These agreements began to be implemented step by step. But due to the problem of Covid-19, the agreements have faltered a lot,” he said, adding that the delegation had discussed ways of continuing the transfer of goods at borders and how to facilitate transportation.

“We discussed solutions to the transfer of goods, exchanging truck heads or trailers and to permit trucks to enter a country for a short time. It is hoped that the process will go smoothly and the majority of goods can be unloaded at the border,” he said.

At the meeting, ASEAN leaders have agreed on two documents – the post-Covid-19 recovery programme and the preparation of a special route for traders who are obliged to leave and enter countries.

The meeting also discussed problems relating to customs, insurance, transport surveillance systems and legal framework development in support for all modes of transport.

Cambodia Logistics Association (CLA) president Sin Chanthy said transporting goods in the ASEAN region remained good despite some small obstacles during the pandemic.

“Bilateral transport is still smooth. But transport from the first country to a third country is yet to be implemented in general,” he said.

He added that after more than a year into the crisis, transport has been hindered because ASEAN has tightened internal security.

“Each country has tightened crossings due to the Covid-19 crisis. For example, previously, we could transport goods in a day, but now it takes two to three days,” he said.

Cambodia Rice Federation president Song Saran said as a rice exporter, he requested all countries to facilitate transport, particularly for Cambodia.

“Please, Cambodia is a less competitive country. I request this because when the situation improves each country will scramble to survive,” he said, adding that highly competitive countries usually reserved large spaces on a ship to transport their goods.

“So, please share space in the ASEAN framework equally,” he said.

He said Cambodia is currently unable to transport goods to the US, Australia, China and the EU because the Kingdom depends on the ports of Singapore and Malaysia to transport goods to a third country.