The General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia (GDCEC) and China’s General Administration of Customs have agreed to modernise their interactions through the use of information technology. They are drafting a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will connect a National Single Window Service between the two.

The agreement was made during a June 10 bilateral meeting between the leaders of the two institutions.

The meeting also aimed to strengthen customs cooperation, in accordance with an earlier MoU on cooperation and mutual assistance in customs affairs that was signed in Beijing in April 2019.

Kun Nhim, Minister Attached to the Prime Minister and director-general of the GDCE, stated that China is an important trade and investment partner.

“The customs administrations of the two countries must cooperate closely, especially in the implementation of the Cambodia-China Bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement,” he said.

“The GDCEC has continuously reformed and modernised. During the June 10 meeting, we exchanged views and agreed on several important agendas, such as the modernisation of the customs administration into ‘smart customs’ through the use of information technology,” he added.

Nhim supported the preparation of a draft MoU on a National Single Window connection, and urged heightened cooperation in preventing and suppressing tax evasion and transnational crimes like drug trafficking or prohibited goods and the endangered wildlife trade. He suggested that fixed contact points be established to allow the two administrations to exchange information more easily.

“Both sides will continue to promote the use of E-Certificates of Origin, which will expedite the filling of customs forms. We are also discussing the joint implementation of an Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) programme to increase trade facilitation and exchange experiences on the implementation of risk management systems, as well as mutual support for regional and global customs operations cooperation,” he explained.

In addition, the Cambodian administration requested that their Chinese counterparts provide technical assistance and capacity building assistance to support the modernisation programme.

The Chinese customs administration expressed support for the request and asked the GDCEC to prepare a proposal of their specific needs.

Hong Vannak, an economist at the Institute of International Relations at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said that increased ties would promote trade between the two countries.

“As we know, China and Cambodia have a close trade relationship, with many Cambodian agricultural products being exported to China. Increased customs cooperation should drive an increase in these exports,” he added.