Commerce Minister Announces New System for Exports

Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol announced Monday that the government would no longer require firms to apply for certificates of origin (CO) if they export to countries that do not require such documentation.

The government also plans to introduce an electronic CO system within six months for companies exporting to countries that do require them, he said.

Mr. Chanthol told participants at a Ministry of Commerce conference at the Intercontinental Hotel on increasing the ease of doing business that Prime Minister Hun Sen had approved his requests to streamline the export system.

Countries like the U.S. and Japan no longer require the certificates declaring the origin of imports, Mr. Chanthol said, but countries that still do can now accept electronic documents.

“I have discussed and met with a company to change the system to make the COs into automatic COs, so that the exporters do not have to come to the Ministry of Commerce in the future,” Mr. Chanthol said.

“They can register the information at their offices or factories via computer and then we will review it at our ministry and we can click the button to release it.”

Lim Bunheng, chairman of the Cambodian Rice Exporters Association said that the decision followed a request made to Mr. Chanthol by exporters last month.

“We support this measure because it is a good measure—[we] will not need to spend on COs anymore,” he said, explaining that exporters currently pay a $50 fee each time they apply for a CO.

Mr. Bunheng said that while the U.S. market does not require a CO, the European Union still gives tax exemptions for goods imported with a CO and China still requires.

Ken Loo, secretary-general of the Garment Manufactures Association of Cambodia, said that he thought that in principle, the switch to an automated system would make business easier for garment exporters, for whom the E.U. is an important market.

“We have to wait and see what the final product is. We haven’t even seen the prototype or know how it will operate but based on what we’ve seen this will be greatly helpful,” Mr. Loo said.

(Additional reporting by Alex Willemyns)

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