Despite reforms contributing to an increase in its world ranking on trade-facilitation performance, Cambodia still lags behind its regional peers, data presented yesterday by the World Bank show.
Streamlined customs procedures and enhancements to port infrastructure have lifted Cambodia up to number 83 on the World Bank’s 2014 Logistics Performance Index (LPI), said Gerard McLinden, a senior trade facilitation specialist in the World Bank’s International Trade Unit. Cambodia was ranked 101st in 2012’s LPI.
“There has been a huge improvement in import, export and transit operations and that comes in part from risk management and streamlining of procedures,” he said during a presentation on the index at the World Bank in Phnom Penh yesterday.
The LPI rankings are based on a survey of logistics companies worldwide. Evaluations relate to a country’s customs management, logistics competence and trade timeliness.
Government officials from the Ministry of Commerce and General Department of Customs and Excise said that recent reforms reducing red tape on certificate of origin requirements, automation of trade confirmation and greater information provided on tariffs and regulations had all led to the improved position.
But not everyone was ready to hail the achievement. It is within a regional context that policymakers should focus, said Srinivasa Madhur, director of research at the Cambodia Development Resource Institute, pointing to the World Bank's logistics rankings that place Cambodia above only Laos and Myanmar.
“Especially because come 2015 you have the ASEAN economic community bloc and hence the focus should really be not a global improvement but where does Cambodia stand in an ASEAN context,” he said.
The World Bank survey backs this up.
Comparing responses from firms based in different ASEAN countries, it shows that Cambodia has the lowest reputation when it comes to improving customs processes.
Among all its neighbours in the economic and political bloc, Cambodia also had the biggest problem with informal payments causing delays at the border.