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ASEAN focuses on logistics

Da Nang, Vietnam

ASEAN officials have vowed to cooperate more closely on logistics integration in the region, as officials estimate that government barriers account for 30 percent of the cost of moving goods between the 10 member states, including Cambodia.

Members of the bloc had launched a road map aimed at streamlining a number of business activities including supply, distribution and monitoring the movements of goods, ASEAN director of market integration Subash Pillai said yesterday.

“The road map aims to speed up logistics by 2013, and, in the long term, make ASEAN a logistics centre in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said yesterday at a meeting of ASEAN economic ministers in Da Nang, Vietnam.

Government-imposed barriers accounted for about 30 percent of costs for intra-ASEAN shipping, he said.
That was a number the road map aimed to reduce.
Launched two years ago, the road map encourages four paths of action – lowering tariffs to increase the flow of goods, trade and investment liberalisation to improve investment in the logistics sector, enhancing the capacity of the sector and improving human resources capacity.
Procedural delays on shipments are due to be reduced under the terms of the road map, said Cambodia Chamber of Commerce deputy chairman Sorn Sokna.
He cited the example of goods travelling from China to Cambodia via Vietnam. Previously, shipments like these required a customs check in Vietnam.
However, once the new scheme comes into effect, goods may be shipped directly from the People’s Republic to Cambodia, he said.
“When this scheme happens, it will help logistics services become faster and cheaper within ASEAN,” he said yesterday.
Cambodia maintains a less-extensive logistics tail compared with neighbouring Vietnam and Thailand, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transportation Planning Department deputy director Cheam Sovanny.
“Our roads, railroads, waterways and air connection are still weak,” he said.
“Through this new road map, we hope Cambodia will strive hard to develop the physical infrastructure to keep up with the development of logistics services in these countries.”
It is still a complicated process to transport goods across the Cambodian border, as both the Finance Ministry’s Department of Customs and Excise and the Ministry of Commerce’s CamControl Department are charged with overseeing part of the process, he said yesterday.
“This scheme will be good for Cambodia and other ASEAN countries. Facilitating logistics will play an important role in reducing time and costs, and improving efficiency.”

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