The province of Banteay Meanchey will build a new market for vendors displaced from the Long Keur market on the Thai side of the Poipet border, a provincial official said yesterday, adding that vendors will be allowed to continue selling their counterfeit goods at the new location.
Plans for the new market were drawn up following two crackdowns by Thai authorities on Cambodian vendors selling knock-off products in the Long Keur market.
The vendors were given until the end of April to sell their remaining counterfeit goods before they must deal only in legal products or vacate the market.
The new market on Cambodian soil will be spread over 2 to 3 hectares in Poipet, according to Provincial Deputy Governor Om Reatrey.
“We are trying to build the market soon,” he said. “The master plan will be completed next month, and Cambodian investors will provide funding.”
Reatrey said that there will be no repercussions for vendors caught selling fake goods and that they will be safe from harassment by Thai authorities.
He added that the new market would bring revenue to the local economy, most of which was previously going to the Thai side.
“Cambodian vendors spent a lot of money to use shops and paid commission on the Thai side, but that did not give any benefit for Cambodia,” he said.
During the first crackdown early last month, Cambodian vendors rioted when Thai authorities confiscated their counterfeit goods. Vendors pelted Thai police with stones and overturned one vehicle.
Following a second raid last week, which did not see any violence, an agreement was reached by both sides to permit these vendors to sell their illegal wares for one month, after which they could stay on the Thai side of the border only if they refrained from selling fake goods.
Nhoem Chheng Ieng, who has sold knock-off clothing products at the Long Keur market for over a decade, said the new market will give vendors a chance to continue their business on the Cambodian side.
“If we have our own market, I will not worry about the Thai police confiscating my goods,” he said. “We would face a slight impact to our business because when we move to the Cambodian side Thai consumers will find it difficult to come here and buy our products.”
Joseph Lovell, senior partner at law firm BNG Legal, said the Thai decision to give vendors a month to sell their counterfeit goods was likely aimed at easing them out of the market humanely, but allowing them to continue to sell fake goods during this period was still a violation of the law.
“And if Cambodia is saying that you can set up a marketplace and sell counterfeit goods, that would be in contravention of Cambodia’s international obligations,” he said.
According to Lovell, not only is Cambodia a signatory to the World Intellectual Property Organisation – a UN body for the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR) such as brands and trademarks – but it also has local legislation governing these rights.
“The business community and investors are looking to see more stringent enforcement of IPR in Cambodia as the situation is still not very satisfactory to general international standards,” he added. Additional reporting by Ananth Baliga.