The Royal Group Sues Firm Over Distribution of Copiers

The Royal Group of Companies, one of Cambodia’s largest conglomerates, has sued another company for allegedly trying to import and distribute new Canon copiers and copier products in Cambodia, a possible violation of an earlier agreement between Royal and the government.

Eighty-three copiers are sitting idle at the port in Sihanoukville after the Royal Group sued the Express Service Center, claiming it had violated an announcement issued by the Ministry of Commerce in 1996.

The Royal Group has asked the courts to stop the distribution of the copiers and copier pro­­ducts, 36 of which bear the Canon brand name.

Express Service Center officials maintain the items are used and therefore it is legal to distribute them. The Royal Group claims the shipment also contained some new copiers.

The Ministry of Commerce issued a letter in 1996 giving the Royal Group sole distribution rights for Canon products. It was unclear to the courts if the agreement included used cop­iers or smaller components, according to a Dec 26 letter from Municipal Judge Khim Sophon to Commerce Minister Chham Prasidh.

“To be fair and just,” Khim Sophon wrote, “there are two questions to be answered by your excellency: Is the letter issued on the date of 17 Oct 96 still valid?…. Did [the letter] mean to include used and new [copiers] and spare parts and ink, or only the new copier and facsimile machines?”

No formal response has come from the ministry, but both an Express Service Center official and a Ministry of Commerce official said last week the used copiers should be allowed to pass customs.

Royal Group Chairman Kith Meng said the shipment contained some new copiers and other accessories. He said the Royal Group would not have sued if all the products were used.

Royal Group had asked customs police to watch for imports of Canon products, he said. The shipment has been held in the Sihan­oukville port since Nov 24.

(Additional reporting by Brian Calvert)



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