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Ministry shake-up as AEC integration looms

The Ministry of Commerce is undergoing an internal shake-up to better position itself for the opening up of trade across the region.

Commerce Minister Sun Chanthol told the Post yesterday that ahead of Asean Economic Community (AEC) integration in 2015, new divisions were being established and others realigned within the ministry to cut red tape and make processes easier for businesses in Cambodia.

The reshuffle is the latest in a string of recent reforms announced by the ministry, including a move towards the online automation of a requirement that exporters must provide a certificate of origin for their products.

“[When] you are reforming the system and the software in order to make life easier for exporters, at the same time [you need to] have the people here to do that work. And without that alignment it is very difficult,” Chanthol said.

A new trade support services division will be established at the ministry to consolidate all services provided to the private sector, including company registration and special economic zone management, while the former trade promotion department will be elevated to its own division and given more resources to seek new markets for Cambodian exports.

The ministry is also establishing a trade training institute under the domestic trade division to help inform producers – such as farmers – of future market trends, Chanthol said.

And in an effort to rein in red tape, the international trade division will be divided into departments dedicated to serving specific regions of the world for those looking to trade with just Asia Pacific.

Chan Sophal, spokesperson for the Cambodia Economic Association, said the wave of reforms announced by the ministry was daunting yet encouraging. “But it is just one aspect of doing business – fundamentally Cambodia still has challenges in high energy costs and expensive and unpredictable legal procedures,” he said.

Some 17 positions are to be filled by the end of the month under the ministry’s new-look structure.

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