Imports of older cars and vans should be banned to help reduce pollution, Minister of Industry and Handicrafts Cham Prasidh said on Monday.
Speaking to Cambodia’s business community at a Green Industry workshop in Phnom Penh on Monday, Prasidh said all countries had a role to play in reducing greenhouse emissions and that Cambodia should look at the environmental impact of its used car market.
“Used and older automobiles are polluting the environment so much, so I am planning to request to the government to consider blocking used cars and and automobiles older than 10 years from entering Cambodia,” he said.
“Newer model of automobiles have less of an impact, but we still see a large number of used cars are being imported to Cambodia.”
Seng Voeung, motor vehicle division manager of RMA Cambodia, which is a Ford distributor, welcomed the minister’s suggestion.
“Cambodia is well-known to be a rubbish bin for unwanted things from abroad. It is really a good start for Cambodia as other countries have already done it, like Laos who would not allow a five-year-old used car into their country.”
Used vehicles account for 90 per cent of the car market, according to Voeung. Not only would the ban on older cars reduce that figure, but it would also bring down the number of traffic accidents and reduce air pollution, he said.
A used Toyota and Lexus dealer based in Phnom Penh who asked not to be named said he would gladly abide by a ruling to take older cars off the road as long as the cost of newer cars was lowered.
“I am fine with the move, but I would like to urge the government to consider charging lower import tax so that users can afford to buy a later series,” he said.
But such a ban could have significant consequences for a country that is still developing, Kang Chandararot, president of Institute of Cambodia Development Studies, said.“I think the measure comes too soon if we look at people’s level of living standards now.
People use the older machinery and automobiles which are affordable for them.”
A ban would increase the cost of transport used in sectors like agriculture, which help foster growth, Chandararot said.
This is not the first time Prasidh has called for a ban on old vehicles.
In 2008, while serving as the minister of commerce, Prasidh proposed a ban on all used cars manufactured before 2000.
Prasidh’s plan was to be implemented following the 2008 national election, however it never came to fruition.
Last month, Tek Reth Kamrong, secretary of state at the Ministry of Commerce, said Cambodians are increasingly able to afford expensive consumer goods.
Reth Kamrong pointed out that in 2013, the number of imported vehicles was 10,000 more than in 2012.