Cambodia has been ranked 91 out of 121 countries in an international survey on the ease of doing domestic and international trade, the World Economic Forum said in a recent report.
With this overall ranking Cambodia finds itself just behind Vietnam and the small African nation of Lesotho, but still above countries such as Argentina and Russia, which rank 97 and 109, respectively, according to the Forum, while the Asian economies of Singapore and Hong Kong top the list.
The Global Enabling Trade Report was released July 7 and is the second of its kind. In 2008 Cambodia ranked 113.
The Forum, a well-known international research institute in Switzerland, based its assessment on a combination of indicators of the difficulty of conducting trade in and with countries.
Transportation and communication infrastructure are a particular constraint for trade in Cambodia, the organization found, ranking these facilities 109th internationally, with the availability and use of information and communication technology at place 115.
Access to the Cambodian market for local and international businesses scored exceptionally well, however, due to attractive trade tariffs, according to the Forum, which ranked Cambodia as 27th most accessible country worldwide for trade.
But border administration and business environment are further barriers on trade at place 98 and 87, respectively, with transparency of the border administration at a poor 118th place.
Mao Thora, secretary of state for the Ministry of Commerce, said the country’s ranking was not bad considering trade with Cambodia was found easier than with 30 other countries included in the survey.
“We want to get better results from surveys like this, we usually never get good results, but place 91 is better than 30 other countries,” he said.
Mr Thora said the ease of doing international trade with Cambodia varies per government department involved in regulating, administrating and taxing businesses, although he did not specify which departments could be difficult for businessmen to deal with.
“The ranking of 91 is good for Cambodia, because right now the government provides good conditions for trade,” said Mong Reththy, president of Mong Reththy Group, which is active in various sectors such as construction and agro-industry.
“I am a businessman and I know it’s not difficult to trade with Cambodia anymore. Before it was difficult,” he said.
“[I]f we complete the documents, pay the taxes and respect the trade laws, then it’s not difficult,” said Mr Reththy, who is also the head of the Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce’s agricultural sector.
“The government should improve the international [trade] ranking of Cambodia by strengthening and applying trade laws and Cambodian businessmen should also follow these rules,” he added.