Experts from the World Bank on Tuesday urged the government to establish a “logistics task force” to improve Cambodia’s transportation network and boost trade.
“It’s really important to have a dedicated group of people that is representing all these various stakeholders that can look at logistics from a holistic perspective,” said Ruth Banomyong, international logistics expert for the World Bank, during a workshop at Phnom Penh’s Sofitel Hotel.
Mr. Ruth said that Malaysia and Indonesia have both established—to great effect—bodies specifically to tackle the issue of logistics.
“Because currently, what you have [in Cambodia] is always people complaining, but you don’t have real facts. When you have the real facts, then you can see how to move forward,” he said.
The aim of the task force, comprised of experts from both the private and public sectors, would be to identify logistical impediments to the flow of goods and services throughout the country.
Although Cambodia has taken steps to streamline customs and transit procedures—the country jumped from a rank of 101 out of 160 countries surveyed in the World Bank’s 2012 Logistics Performance Index to 83 in 2014—there is still work to be done.
A report released by the World Bank in July said that despite being Cambodia’s primary gateway for seaborne cargo, Sihanoukville Port in Preah Sihanouk province “has a draft, which in turn restricts the size of vessels that can call at the port,” with “vessels calling at Sihanoukville port…small by international standards.”
The cost of transporting goods to and from the port, meanwhile, is high.
Enrique Aldaz-Carroll, senior country economist at the World Bank, said at the workshop that the cost of transporting rice on rural roads was also an area in which improved logistics was much needed.
In Cambodia, the cost of transporting rice ranges from $10 to $13 per ton per 100 km, compared to $5 in Vietnam and $7 in Thailand.
Correction: A previous version of this story reversed the cost of transporting rice in Vietnam and Thailand.