Gov’t Makes Plans to Meet Global Standards

Drawing closer to full integration into the World Trade Organ­iz­ation, the Ministry of Industry is creating a team to deal with Inter­na­tional Organization for Stan­dard­ization requirements, aiming to gain certification for industrial production quality, ministry officials said Wednesday.

“We are looking for more technical assistance and documentary advice from ILO subscribers to work on the issue,” Hul Lim, ministry undersecretary of state,  said.

To be competitive with Asean countries already acting under the Asean Free Trade Agreement, Cam­­bodia’s goods trading must receive ISO certification.

But the current situation de­mands that a National Stan­dard­iz­ation Team first be estab­lished to en­sure the quality of im­ported pro­ducts. It will take four to five years to reach international quality standards, said Min­is­try of Com­merce Secretary of State Sok Siphana.

Three Cambo­dian com­panies currently have ISO certificates: Cal­tex Cambodia, Tela (Cam­bo­dia), and Tiger Beer (Cambodia).

Hul Lim said the quality of goods would improve with ISO cer­­tification, but added, “I do not mean that goods without ISO cannot sell.”

The first step to certification is estab­lishing Cambodia’s own na­tional standard for goods quality, which requires following international market standards. Without national standardization, Hul Lim said the country could face unsafe imports from foreign markets.

“We never know if some of the bev­erage products imported to our country are quality goods be­cause we don’t have a national stan­­dard authority to check it,” Hul Lim said.

As an ILO-certified member of Asean, Cambodia could negotiate prices according to other countries’ standard policies.

Although he looks forward to the certification, Sok Siphana is not convinced that ISO is the answer to all of Cambodia’s problems. He instead considers it a tool with which to measure product quality and to protect the interests of consumers and investors.“If pe­tro­leum companies re­ceived ISO certificate, it would en­sure that the amount and quality of their products are worth the mo­ney spent for it,” he said.

The Austrian government re­cently provided $600,000 to help Cam­bodia study and draft the law.

Caltex Cambodia received the ISO 9002 award in 1999 for its Sihanoukville Terminal, which has been renewed three years in a row. This testifies to the fact that the $8 million terminal complies with the ISO standards for organizational structure, procedures, pro­cesses and resources for achieving, sustaining and improving quality, according to the ISO.

Some 20,000 standards dictate size and quality controls for consu­ma­ble pro­ducts worldwide. No laws exist to enforce them, but most producers shape their products to comply with market pressures and consumer demands.


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