MoC setting priorities, tapping African market via Middle East

MoC setting priorities, tapping African market via Middle East

The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) is one of the busiest ministries of the Royal Government of Cambodia with too many things on its plate. Besides maintaining the momentum of the flow of export of goods and products to maintaining good relations with trading partners, the MoC is also engaged in exploring new frontiers to attract new investments, for example, it is eyeing to expand the market to the Middle East as it will facilitate to enter the African market

The Ministry of Commerce (MoC) is making earnest efforts to reach out to uncharted African markets via the Middle East, while strengthening the existing major markets such as the United States, Canada, the European Union, and countries within the regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP). In the last six months, ever since Minister of Commerce Cham Nimul took over the reins, the ministry has been on a roll by strengthening the existing markets while seeking more opportunities to expand new markets to enhance the export of goods and products to the international market.

Summing up the broad achievements of the ministry, Penn Sovicheat, Secretary of State and Spokesperson of MoC said despite the Covid-19 crisis, the ministry has maintained the momentum with all the markets for export while achieving commendable results for the country. But far more significant, is the MoC eyeing to expand the market to the Middle East as it will facilitate to enter the African market.

The ministry has entered into comprehensive trade partnerships with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and this had led to countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran and several African countries joining hands to forge closer trade ties with the Kingdom. This initiative could lead to establish a comprehensive partnership agreement or a free trade agreement (FTA) in the near future.

Several African countries have sent ambassadors and high-level officials to meet with MoC senior officials and representatives to discuss the possibility of opening, creating and connecting the Kingdom’s products with the international markets.

The MoC plans to further promote the ministry’s trade nursery market to connect with other overseas markets to strengthen the existing market and find new markets. Also, the ministry paid close attention to the rice trade industry to export them to the region including the ASEAN member countries.

The MoC facilitated the rice trade by cooperating with Green Trade Asia Co Ltd, helping to consult with various trading companies for promoting Cambodian goods while advertising the incentive package of those products when exported to the international market.

The MoC facilitated the rice trade by cooperating with Green Trade Asia Co Ltd, helping to consult with various trading companies for promoting Cambodian goods while advertising the incentive package of those products when exported to the international market.

A worker at a rice storage building in Phnom Penh. Khmer Times

The amount of exports to major markets such as the United States, Canada, the European Union, regional countries and the regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP) has increased significantly. The ministry’s efforts have shown a positive sign for future development while maintaining the existing market after Covid-19 crisis.

It may be recalled that in February 2024, Cambodia called for the inclusion of the Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) agreement into the WTO programme as such a fusion will benefit the member states – including Cambodia – by enhancing the investment climate. Nimul told this at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Abu Dhabi.

Attending the IFD event on the sidelines of MC13, Nimul supported the inclusion of the agreement on IFD into the WTO agreement and stressed on the importance of this collaboration and its benefits to the member states – including Cambodia – through enhancing the investment climate.

Minister of Commerce Cham Nimul. MoC

Rice trade facilitation
On March 12, MoC in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) organised a national workshop aimed at formulating the process to expand the milled rice market as well as collecting feedback from all stakeholders to identify obstacles that reduce the production capacity.

During the workshop on ‘Formulation Process of Cambodia’s Milled Rice Market Expansion and Diversification Strategy’, Nimul highlighted the benefits that participants could gain from the strategy to expand and diversify the country’s rice market which is the most important agribusiness in Cambodia.

She emphasised that the strategy and market diversification from 2024 to 2030 will be a key tool for the government, especially MoC for which the ministry is responsible for diversifying markets and increasing rice exports across the world.

She further recommended two key factors to discuss in depth with all stakeholders such as the protection of trademarks, intellectual property and collective brand-building while the other factor is focused on strengthening the quality of rice by taking into account several concerns such as quantity, quality, safety and aesthetics of the packaging procedure.

Tat Puthsodary, Secretary of State of MoC, said that the overarching environment phase one focuses on five objectives: first to continue strengthening peace, political stability, security and public order; second to adhere to an independent, rule-based, and smart foreign policy; third is ensuring macroeconomic and financial stability; fourth is building inclusive and effective partnerships and lastly to enhance the promotion of integration into the regional and global economy.

Payment platform
Coming to the payment, the Department of Import and Export of MoC participated in the implementation of the Cambodia National Single Window (CNSW) system. To facilitate electronic payment for the CNSW project, the import and export department has signed several memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with partner banks and officially accepted the payment through Wing Bank, Canadian Bank and Vattanac Bank.

The spokesperson went on to add that to obtain the license and certification, the private sector has to pay fees to the government which generally accepted cash in the past, however, to reduce the time-consuming, travelling and documentation costs.

“Recently, the MoC has been connecting with the Cambodian Public Bank and Prince Bank and will accept payment from through these two banks very soon. Further, we are conducting a feasibility study and negotiation with ACLEDA, Foreign Trade Bank of Cambodia (FTB Bank) and Phillip Bank,” the MoC Secretary said.

In its next mission, the MoC will update the transmission of certificate data of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement e-Form D (ATIGA e-Form D), a project to expedite customs clearance and ASEAN Customs Declaration Document (ACDD), a scheme to facilitate the exchange of export declaration information launched in January last year.

The introduction of an electronic, online solution will increase the speed and transparency of international trade procedures, reduce costs and provide consistency and certainty to the total process, from the start of the regulatory requirements to the clearance of goods.

It may be recalled that the CNSW second meeting held in June 2019 had six ministries involved such as the General Department of Customs and Excise (GDCE), Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation (MISTI) and Ministry of Commerce (MoC). The sixth ministries were connected through the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), registering in the CNSW aimed at engaging in the Asian Single Window (ASW).

In the third meeting held on January 2023, the RGC included more ministries and institutions such as the Cambodian Commercial Gambling Management Committee General Secretariat (CGMC), the General Department of International Cooperation and Debt Management of Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPTC), Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts (MCFA), Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), Ministry of Environment (MoE), and the National Bank of Cambodia (NBC).

MoUs with CP Cambodia
In mid-December last year, MoC and C.P. Cambodia Co Ltd joined hands in promoting the procurement of agricultural products. The two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance food safety and strengthen trade in meat and meat products.

Under the MoU, three critical areas of collaboration were identified between the Ministry of Commerce and CP Cambodia, first is the cooperation in promoting the procurement of red corn, cassava, and other local raw materials for animal feed production as the Department of Domestic Trade of MoC and CP Cambodia will work together to support the procurement of red corn, cassava, and other locally-produced raw materials required for animal feed production.

Second is the cooperation in promoting the procurement of rice, bran, and rice husks for animal feed production where the Green Trade Company of the MoC and CP Cambodia will collaborate to ensure the procurement of rice, bran, and rice husks, which are essential ingredients in animal feed production.

The last cooperation is in food safety promotion related to trade in meat and meat products of which the General Department of Consumer Protection, Competition, and Anti-Fraud of MoC and CP Cambodia will work towards enhancing food safety standards and regulations on the trade in meat and meat products.

During the 30th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Retreat in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR held last month, Nimul discussed and followed up on the relevant signs of progress of ASEAN economic integration.

The 30th AEM Retreat was organised to discuss and follow up on the relevant progress of ASEAN economic integration such as the Annual Priorities for 2024, the Progress of the ASEAN Digital Economic Framework Agreement Negotiation, the Progress of ATIGA Upgrade Negotiation, ASEAN Sustainability Initiatives and the development of ASEAN Community Vision 2045.

The consultation aimed at briefing on the ASEAN-BAC’s legacy projects, priorities and initiatives for this year as well as to consider their recommendations and possible areas of collaboration with the ASEAN-BAC to strengthen private sector engagements in ASEAN economic integration.

Integration via EU-Gate
Attending an event organised by MoC, the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Government (GIZ), Nimul called for greater economic integration. She said that under the Pentagonal Strategy – Phase One, the Royal Government of Cambodia’s (RGC) main mission is to transform the Kingdom into an upper middle-income country by 2030 and move towards achieving the vision of becoming a high-income country by 2050 in line with the agenda set out by the United Nations (UN).

The Minister shared several views and efforts to promote the Kingdom’s participation in regional and global trade integration including the supply chain capacity and infrastructure to support the trade sector, the ability to implement and maximize the existing and effective free trade agreements (FTAs), and lastly is the country’s readiness to leave the Lease Developed Countries (LDC graduation).

She encouraged all key partners and stakeholders to participate deeply in the early stages of the EU-GATE project aimed at providing input such as a practical requirement for the successful implementation of this project.

The Minister stressed that the cooperation will pave the way for enhancing the trade environment and its sustainability in the nation, ensuring the readiness of the country to address challenges and opportunities after LCD graduation. khmertimeskh

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