NA Passes Law for Local-, Foreign-Product Quality Standards

The National Assembly unanimously adopted a law Wednes­day that would create quality standards for Cambodian-made products, as well as standards for foreign companies importing goods into Cambodia.

The law will permit the Com­merce Ministry’s Camcontrol de­partment to inspect the quality standard of all goods entering the country’s market, said Ith Praing, secretary of state for the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.

The 11-chapter law passed easily and with little debate by the 84 lawmakers, who began debating it Tuesday.

Minister of Industry Suy Sem said that the draft law is among several pieces of legislation that Cam­bo­dia promised to pass when it gain­ed entry into the World Trade Or­ganization in 2004.

Funcinpec lawmaker Ky Lum Ang, who chairs the Assembly Com­­­mission dealing with In­dus­try and Commerce, said that the law will be instrumental in im­proving the quality of domestically-produced goods.

The draft law calls for the creation of the Cambodia Stan­dards Institute, which will be an arm of the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy.

Under the law, only certain “important products” designated by the Minister of Industry will be required to meet the standards set by the Standards Institute.

Producers of goods not singled out by the minister can voluntarily request a product review by the Standards Institute. If they pass, producers can display the institute’s quality assurance mark on their product labeling and advertising.

Producers who put the quality seal on their goods without having passed an institute review will be subject to a sentence of six days to one month in prison and a fine of $125 to $500.

Suy Sem said that the institute’s standards will also be applied to foreign-made goods imported into the country.

“We will not allow foreign products to enter Cambodia if they don’t comply with the Cambodian standard,” he said.

According to Ith Praing,the Ministry of Industry has already implemented standards for drinking water produced for Cambo­dia’s domestic market. He added that the ministry plans to issue standards for electronic goods, among other products.

Though it passed easily, Fun­cin­pec and SRP lawmakers took exception to one provision in the law which states that the Stan­dards Institute must keep the results of any inspection secret unless the Minister of Industry or the court demands it be made public.

Speaking at the Assembly, Fun­cinpec lawmaker Monh Sap­han maintained that keeping inspection results secret will not help the institute standardize products or improve consumer confidence.

“The inspectors are just checking the standard, they aren’t in­­specting nuclear weapons,” Monh Sap­han quipped.

SRP lawmaker Keo Remy welcomed the quality-standards law, but worried that corrupt officials might take advantage of the law to extort money from businesses.

“We worry about the institution that issues standard licenses taking the chance to do corrupt activities,” he said.

Suy Sem responded that secrecy was needed to ensure that inspectors did not violate the intellectual property rights of producers.


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