The National Assembly Wednesday approved an amendment to the commercial laws that would eliminate duties on imported goods by the year 2018.
The measure—one of the conditions given the country for its admittance into Asean—is meant to make trade with Cambodia more affordable for the country’s neighbors, which have been previously deterred by high tariffs.
But parliamentarians acknowledged the possible ill effects of such a tax cut on Cambodian producers, particularly farmers, who would face being undercut by importers no longer forced to sell at higher prices.
To combat this, many National Assembly members suggested strengthening the commercial laws in an effort to help stimulate better production methods.
“Local and world commercial situations are developing but this country still has not enough laws for practicing commerce,” Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh said. “We have to think about our competitors, so we have to strengthen the quality, price and service of our products,” he said.
He said farmers would have to alter their crop production to accommodate market needs instead of merely growing what they’ve always grown in the past—usually rice that does not completely sell out domestically and is then illegally exported.
“I understand our farmers need money, but the problem is, when our people have less rice they always raise the prices,” said National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh, one of the 91 parliamentarians also to support the amendment.
Sam Rainsy parliamentarian Son Chhay also said Wednesday that a committee would be formed to investigate the Ministry of Commerce in order to streamline its operations.
Chan Sarun (CPP) from Takeo province, urged the Assembly to crack down on officials who benefit financially from illegal businesses and urged action against alleged abuse of workers in garment factories.