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Cambodia to set up own standards system soon

CS tag will match the global ISO system, says official

CAMBODIA has set up a standards institute to improve the quality of local food and water, an official said Tuesday.

The new Cambodian Standard (CS) should also help local manufacturers gain access to external markets said Ping Sivlay, the president of the new Institute of Standards of Cambodia (ISC).

Ping Sivlay said the implementation date for the standards, which fall under the remit of the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy, had not yet been finalised. He said the standards match those of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), but would not be drawn on the costs of testing products to meet the CS. The cost to issue the certificate is US$100, he said.

"Some products will need to carry the CS standard in order to ensure safety for users," he said. "Cambodia is a member of the WTO, so all local entrepreneurs should come to get their certificate to improve product quality to sell in the local market and also to export to foreign markets. We can also help them get the ISO rating."

Ping Sivlay said there were two types of standards - voluntary and compulsory - with the latter applicable to products that affect human health, such as water, salt, pepper and beans. Voluntary standards are meant to encourage entrepreneurs to get the CS mark.

The ISC can currently only test the chemical composition and microbiology components of food and water - that is done using a machine accredited by Norway. Ping Sivlay said just 30 of the nation's 100 manufacturers of bottled water had the CS mark, and just one company out of 50 that produce pepper, beans, salt or vinegar.

"When those enterprises meet the standard, they don't only produce high-quality products, they also ensure that hygiene standards are followed with regard to packaging and the workplace environment," he said. "If we find that a company is making a product that has a high impact on human health, we will force them to get the compulsory standard or shut them down."

Thai Vantha, the deputy manager of bottled water manufacturer Euro-Tech, said his firm had its CS certificate as well as the ISO 9001 certificate, which it obtained overseas.

"Having the standard has improved the quality of my company's product because we follow all the ministry's guidelines," he said. "And our clients support us because they trust the quality of our water."

However, Chhorn Ravuth, the manager of palm wine manufacturer Confirel, said he was worried at the cost of complying with the regulations, and said some bureaucrats might use the opportunity to look for problems that did not exist in order to extort money. He added that his company already holds a certificate from Russia allowing it to export.

"I am happy that our country has an institute for local enterprises to improve the quality of our products," said Chhorn Ravuth. "But the cost of complying should not be so high that it acts as a barrier to entrepreneurs as that will cause us to lose access to local and foreign markets."

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